BRANSON, Mo. — Wednesday is our first look at the design for an 800 acre race track already underway near Branson.
That's even though we're still two months out from a vote to have the project approved.
There's been a little bit of public misconception about what's going on at the Branson Sports and Entertainment complex build site. It's just dirt work- totally allowed on acreage zoned agriculture. But they're shooting for a re-zoning to commercial, and if they get it, Taney County is in store for one of its biggest projects to date.
That was how Archie Pinnell reacted to learning of the proposal for a 65,000 seat speedway 75 yards from his property line.
"You could walk out on the deck or sit in the sunroom and watch a race."
Pinnell is one of the few people on the outskirts of the proposed Branson Sports and Entertainment Complex who would be "okay" with it.
"I don't know how many jobs but year-round jobs and part-time too. There may be 3, 4, 5,000 jobs before it's over with," he guesses.
Problem is we're already talking about an end before there's an official beginning.
"It was a full house Monday night. Obviously there's a lot of interest," says Shawn Pingleton, Chairman of Taney County's Planning and Zoning Commission.
And that was just a concept hearing, step one of three before the developers can do anything more than move dirt.
"They're taking a big risk by doing the dirt work ahead of time not knowing the outcome," says Pingleton.
"It's a risk the ownership is willing to take."
That's how confident Tom Gammon- the Director of Development and Construction- is that his team's got a project Taney county would be crazy to pass up.
"What we're applying for is a motorplex racing facility with the associated commercial development around it."
When it came to picking a location, 10 minutes south of southwest Missouri's biggest tourism town seemed like a natural fit. So much of what the minds behind the project say they need is already there; 400 restaurants, 50 theaters, and 22,000 hotel rooms.
That's a win for them and a win for the county, according to Gammon.
"It will bring customers to Branson Landing, the malls, shows, Silver Dollar City," he explains.
That's thanks to three tracks-- "that's a 3/8 mile, that's a 3/4 mile, and that's 2 1/2 miles," says Gammon, pointing to a diagram.
"My other property off that point, you can look down in it so I guess build bleachers and watch?" Pinnell says, showing us a section of trees.
That's only if he's still here. He may be "okay" with the project, but his house is the on the market.
"It just worked out that way."
Gammon says they're not committed to building the road course and dirt track for bikes and ATVs just yet. Really, they can't commit to anything until the public hearing and a vote of the Planning and Zoning Commission, both of which are scheduled for July.
Gammon says similar tracks have brought in more than 40 million dollars in sales tax revenue a year.
He also says the design includes a second road to the Branson airport, just a few miles from the site.