By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
FELLSMERE — The Fellsmere City Council will hear a proposal Thursday evening to bring to life the long defunct MESA Park and that plan could have an estimated $200 million impact on the region, if what organizers say is correct.
“People travel far and wide for racing,” said Chris Stanton, general manager of Treasure Coast Motorsports. They need a place to stay, a place to eat, and a place to shop.
“That’s kind of hard to quantify,” Fellsmere City Manager Jason Nunemaker said. Treasure Coast Motorsports’ managing partner Ike Heckler Jr. will be making a presentation to the Fellsmere City Council Thursday in an attempt to get approval to host special events at the Music-Entertainment-Sports-Activities Park, starting with a mud-bog event Oct. 10.
Stanton said that if all goes to plan, the group will have a grand opening “Mud Bog Mania” event Oct. 10. Already, more than 100 drivers have expressed interest in participating in the inaugural event, according to Stanton.
“It will definitely help out the local businesses,” Stanton said of the inclusion of the motorsports tracks at the park.
Beth Mitchell, executive director of the Sebastian Chamber of Commerce, said that she was unaware of an economic study, but added that the motorsports would indeed have a positive impact on North County, not just Fellsmere, if it were approved.
“I just don’t know how to quantify that,” she said.
For the Chamber’s purposes of keeping economic tabs on people – a person who spends a day in Sebastian tends to spend between $77 and $79. Those who stay overnight, spend $138 per night per person, according to Mitchell.
Mitchell added that both Fellsmere and Sebastian could expect to benefit from the motorsports park.
“I think our communities are linked more than people think,” she said.
Treasure Coast Motorsports has plans for a mud-bog/ATV/tractor-pull track – the first phase – a 1/4-mile concrete NHRA certified drag strip called “Sebastian Dragway” and the “Fellsmere Speedway,” a 5/8-mile asphalt oval track.
But where the tracks would be located remains to be seen. While organizers are proposing MESA Park, Fellsmere’s Nunemaker said other locations are also being considered.
“I hate saying it for sure,” Nunemaker said of MESA Park being the site for all three tracks, noting that he does not want to rile the residents who might be concerned about the noise from events occurring at the same time.
If Fellsmere leaders decide to oppose bringing motorsports to MESA – or elsewhere in Fellsmere – Stanton said they’d find another place.
“The motorsports park will go somewhere,” Stanton said. Stanton would not say if the motorsports park would find another home in Indian River County if Fellsmere denied it.
Along with being the premiere park for all things motorsports, the Fellsmere facility would be the “first renewable energies sports park” in the country – if approved – according to Treasure Coast Motorsports’ Web site, www.PalmBay-MotorSportsPark.com.
“That would be pretty sweet,” Nunemaker said of the organizers’ discussion of promoting alternative fuels.