Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image An aerial view of Utah Motorsports Campus. The time period for accepting bids for the facility closed on July 2. (David Bern/TTB File Photo)

July 5, 2018
County has at least one offer to buy racetrack

Tooele County has received at least one offer to buy Utah Motorsports Campus by the July 2 deadline that was set by the county in April when it issued a request for offers to purchase the facility.

Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne responded to an inquiry on Tuesday from the Transcript Bulletin about receiving purchase offers for UMC, but he declined to comment on how many the county received.

“We have decided to disclose that information after negotiations have concluded,” Milne said.

County officials have no deadline to announce the potential buyer and their offer, according to Milne.

“We will be reviewing our options and seeking counsel from various advisors during the coming weeks,” Milne said. “We will be taking the time we feel is necessary to thoroughly vet our choices.”

However, the published request for offers released April 24 by Tooele County stated: “Tooele County will announce the offer it has accepted, if one is accepted, within 30 days of the deadline for receiving offers. Closing will be held within 30 days of the deadline, with the cash purchase price due in full. Tooele County reserves its right to, in its sole discretion, reject all offers.”

The deadline for offers was July 2, 2018, at 5 p.m., according to the request for offers.

This is the second time the county has solicited offers to purchase the property and facility formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park.

The Larry H. Miller Group leased the 511 acres that the racetrack sits on from Tooele County in 2005.

 After spending over $100 million on the racing facility, Miller Motorsports Park opened in 2006.

The 10-year lease agreement called for the Miller Group to pay Tooele County $60,000 each year, or 5 percent of the facility’s gross revenue, whichever was greater. In 2013, the Miller’s payment to the county was $337,166.

In May 2015, six years after Larry Miller passed away, the Miller group informed Tooele County that it would not renew the lease. The facility, including the racetrack and buildings, became the property of the county upon termination of the lease, according to the terms of the lease.

By the end of June 2015, Milne announced that the county had received offers from “10 serious suitors,” with the intent of either purchasing or leasing the racetrack to keep it operating and open to the public.

The county signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase of Miller Motorsports Park with Mitime Investment and Development, a subsidiary of a multinational company led by a Chinese billionaire, in August 2015 for $20 million.

Mitime’s offer was not the highest offer. Center Point Management, a Wyoming corporation operating out of Las Vegas, Nevada, offered the county $22.5 million.

The county commission supported its decision to accept the lower cash offer, stating that Mitime’s proposal called for an investment in the facility that would lead to greater economic benefits for the county in terms of jobs and taxes in the long term than Center Point’s proposal.

Center Point sued Tooele County, claiming that both county and state law required the county to accept the highest offer regardless of future benefits. During the lawsuit, Center Point Management raised its offer to $28.5 million.

A Third District Court judge ruled in favor of Center Point and set aside the sale of MMP to Mitime, however he did not direct the county to accept Center Point’s offer.

Tooele County then tried to sell MMP to its Redevelopment Agency, an economic development body organized, according to state law, with the county commissioners as the board of directors. Center Point filed a challenge to that sale with the 3rd District Court.

In Dec. 2017, Tooele County reached an out of court settlement with Center Point and paid it $1.55 million to drop all challenges to the sale of the track and not participate in future attempts to buy the facility.

The settlement with Center Point freed the county to start a new process to sell the facility.

This time the county can consider future benefits when reviewing offers to purchase UMC thanks to legislation passed by the 2018 Utah state Legislature that allows counties to consider future benefits and sell certain parcels for less than the highest offer.

Tooele County published a request for offers to purchase UMC on April 24, 2018. According to the request, offers to purchase UMC may include not only the cash price of purchase, but also anticipated future value to Tooele County. 

Anticipated future value includes the total value of all reasonably anticipated future benefits to Tooele County, including increased tax revenues and the creation or maintenance of jobs. 

Offers that include anticipated future value must include enforceable promises and measurable benchmarks, supported by a qualified report, according to the request.

The request also requires that all proposals contain information on the identity of the offeror, including names of principals, officers, and members of corporations. Offers are also required to include a $200,000 deposit and verified financial information to support the purchase price and all promised improvements and developments.

An official press release on the status of sale of UMC is being prepared by Tooele County, according to Milne, but was not available at press time.

 

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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