While it’s too soon for Aurora to start its engines in trying to lure NASCAR to the city as part of a lucrative and far-reaching entertainment development on the city’s farthest eastern edges, making it possible is long overdue.
Measure 2J deletes odious language in the city’s charter that Aurora voters were hoodwinked into in 1999 by outstate interests and other carpetbaggers.
In the late 1990s, Aurora caught the attention of international racing officials, eager to get a part of the growing Front Range market. Aurora played with the idea of luring a NASCAR track to vast tracts of empty land east of the city. At the same time, out-of-state and regional interests had opened the Pikes Peak International Raceway, miles south of Colorado Springs. It was an ill-conceived, ill-timed and sputtering racetrack project doomed to fail.
Eventually, it did just that, but not before that track’s owners pulled off a nefarious political stunt in Aurora. Owners of the track sought out two “local residents” to create a ballot initiative that would prevent Aurora from providing tax incentives or any “financial” assistance to any racing industry projects. In effect, it banned Aurora from allowing racing interests into the city. Track owners bankrolled a huge campaign to persuade off-year voters to keep from spending tax money on racetracks. It was a sham that made no sense on several levels, but unobservant voters fell victim to the ploy as critics were wildly outspent by Colorado Springs interests.
The ban passed, which is the only such ban on any kind of industry or tax incentives in Aurora. Since then, the Colorado Springs racetrack has become a near-vacant eyesore in the middle of nowhere.
Now it’s time to fix the mess these racetrack carpetbaggers left in Aurora. NASCAR isn’t knocking at the door, but with the Colorado and metro economy steaming to the front of the pack across the nation, any expansion of the racing giant’s program would be wise to find a home here. And Aurora and the metro area would benefit hugely from a project similar to that in Kansas City, Kan.
Measure 2J isn’t a referendum on racing expansion, it’s just a housekeeping measure that takes a absurd and deceitful ordinance imposed on the city off the books for good. The city’s charter should never be a place for decisions that should be made on their merits by elected representatives.
And 2J as a benefit does clear the track should NASCAR or another racing interest come knocking. That’s when decisions involving this or other economic development should be made by city legislators under full public scrutiny, not in advance by competing, far-away interests. Vote “yes” on 2J.