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SBD/August 11, 2014/FacilitiesPrint All
A "frightening multi-car crash" midway into yesterday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen "renewed calls by some NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers for more safety changes" at Watkins Glen Int'l, according to Ron Levanduski of the Elmira STAR-GAZETTE. The cars of Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell made "huge impacts with the blue Armco guard rail that lines much of the 2.45-mile road course." The incident "brought out two red flags: an initial stoppage for 20 minutes and 53 seconds, followed by a yellow caution to remove the cars from the track and a second stoppage for 1 hour, 49 seconds to repair the guard rail." Newman's impact "actually punctured a couple of sections of the guard rail," and he "lashed out at the safety" of the track. He said, "It is a very antiquated track and the safety is not at all up to NASCAR standards. It's a shame that we have to have accidents like that to prove it." WGI President Michael Printup said, "We will sit down with NASCAR and evaluate what that accident produced and what we need to do. Safety for the fans and drivers is paramount." Printup added that initial discussions "will take place 'no later than the end of this week,' but could not predict whether there would be action before next year's Sprint Cup race" (Elmira STAR-GAZETTE, 8/11). NASCAR VP/Competition Robin Pemberton noted WGI has made "great advancements" in safety over the years, but he said, "We're not the only series that races here." Pemberton: "Not all places are places for SAFER barriers. There are different types of systems to help slow the cars down. ... There's a priority list as far as what turns and what straightaways and things like that you need to work on. It's an ongoing process” (“Cheez-It 355 at The Glen,” ESPN, 8/10).
SAFETY FIRST: Newman referenced the Daytona Rising project when he said NASCAR has "no problems spending $400 million in Daytona, but they could spend a few million dollars here on safety and make a lot of drivers happy." USA TODAY's Ryan & Gluck note Newman's pleas "echoed the concerns voiced after the track's 2011 race, which included two violent wrecks." Driver David Ragan said that he had "seen better walls at dirt tracks and urged the addition of SAFER barriers." WGI following a '09 crash involving Jeff Gordon made $1.3M "in improvements to barriers and runoff areas, but drivers said more should be done" (USA TODAY, 8/11). In Charlotte, Jim Utter writes, "Here is some unsolicited advice for NASCAR: Either put energy-absorbing SAFER barriers everywhere at every track or do a better job of explaining why they aren't there" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/11).
The "amount of private-sector support" for the possible development of a new, multipurpose arena in downtown Milwaukee will be "significant," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management Exec Chair Ted Kellner, who is one of six minority investors in the Bucks, said that he believes there is "potential for raising" as much as $300M. Kellner: "Collectively, there will be $250 million to $300 million of support, especially when you add in naming rights and suites." The $300M "includes the $100 million pledged by former owner Herb Kohl" and the $100M co-Owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens have "put on the table." Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Timothy Sheehy, who formed a committee of business leaders working on the plan, said that he believed raising at least $250M "was achievable." Walker noted many expect that Edens, who has a "strong real estate and development background, will be able to entice additional investors." There has been "no specific estimate what a new arena would cost, but many knowledgeable observers believe it will be between" $400-500M. Sheehy said that of the 13 NBA arenas that have opened around the country since '99, the "average amount of public funding was 69%." In contrast, Denver's Pepsi Center was "built with only 3% public financing." Sheehy: "The point is that with strong private-sector support, Milwaukee's need for public financing will be significantly less than the average. How much less is still a question based on the estimated cost, for which we don't have a figure yet" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/10).