When it comes to the Tooele County Commission’s proposed sale of Utah Motorsports Campus, two things are at least known:
First, the racetrack has at least one interested buyer. Second, if Commissioners Myron Bateman, Wade Bitner and Shawn Milne honor their request for purchase offers that was posted in April, if a buyer’s offer is accepted, they’ll announce who the buyer is on or before Aug. 2. But if they don’t honor it, it’s anyone’s guess when the announcement will be made.
As we reported in the July 5 and July 10 editions, the commissioners had received at least one purchase proposal from an undisclosed interested buyer on or before the July 2 deadline for proposals. We say at least one, because the commissioners haven’t revealed how many proposals have been received.
But what they have revealed is their intent to proceed slowly, and to get outside help to make a decision that hopefully will be in the best interest of the county.
“We will be reviewing our options and seeking counsel from various advisors during the coming weeks in regard to the track’s future,” said Milne in a written statement. “We will be taking the time we feel is necessary to thoroughly vet our options.”
The county commission’s reluctance to reveal more, which is legal even though the racetrack has been owned by the county since 2015 when the Larry H. Miller Group chose not to renew its lease for the facility, is a departure from the commissioners’ bid review process three years ago.
By July 2015 it was publicly known that around a dozen companies had submitted purchase proposals. In Aug. 2015, the commissioners announced the racetrack had been sold for $20 million to Mitime Investment and Development Group of China.
As has become well-known history, the commissioners’ victory was short-lived, thanks to a lawsuit by CenterPoint Management that eventually killed the Mitime deal — and ended up with the commissioners paying CenterPoint $1.55 million to settle the matter. CenterPoint was one of the companies that had submitted a bid to buy the racetrack and offered more money than Mitime.
Given the importance of Utah Motorsports Campus’ economic development potential to the county, the costly legal battle the commissioners endured over the facility’s failed sale, and the millions of dollars the county owes to a management company for operating the racetrack for the county since 2015, the commissioners are wise to take the time they feel necessary to “thoroughly vet” their options.
To have the racetrack’s sale land in court again would be humiliating for the commissioners and a regrettable public display of incompetence at local taxpayers’ expense.
The commissioners’ are thanked for their commitment to have UMC sold only to an entity that will ensure the facility’s best, long-term use. Seek the counsel you need, commissioners, to reach a decision that best serves the county and its citizens. Take all the time you need, too. There’s a lot at stake.