Following a closed-session meeting earlier in the week when the three top bidders submitted further proposals, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors directed staff to begin exclusive negotiations with Friends of Laguna Seca regarding the concession which includes the iconic race track as well as the surrounding property, a Monterey County park.
Friends is one of the three entities vying for the concession, and the only non-profit of the group. [We profiled Friends in our July 15, 2016 issue (page 7).] They are also the only one asked to enter into negotiations at this point.
“We appreciate the vote of confidence,” in Friends of Laguna Seca, said Ross Merrill, President of the Board of Friends. “We look forward to providing the information.” Merrill adds that, unlike the other bidders, Friends has no
shareholders. “All profits will go directly back into the community.” This is the model that SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula) had followed since building the facility in 1957.
Profits at the track have not kept pace with expenses in recent years, prompting the Board of Supervisors to seek another way to run the track. Friends proposes a $50 million capital improvement plan with $25 million in the first five years. They propose a mix of events which would utilize all the various assets of the park, including the campgrounds, the motocross track, and the rifle and pistol range. There are a number of other factors which will affect the negotiations, including updating and improvements at the track and the surrounding facilities.
The concession has not been officially awarded and likely will not be for another 6-8 weeks. In a letter to SCRAMP Directors and Assistant Directors, Mike Smith, President of the SCRAMP Board of Governors, said “It’s far from a done deal. Both the County and FoLS [sic] now need to see if what was proposed will be in reality…workable in the long
term.” Smith is part of a faction of SCRAMP which had submitted a proposal together with ISC (International Speedway Corporation). The third bidder was World Automotive Championship of California, a
commercial enterprise as is ISC.