“Caution Flag” out for proposed Branson Sports Entertainment Complex

When the initial announcement about the plans for the proposed NASCAR Racetrack south of Hollister and Branson was made it reminded the Ole Seagull of Abraham Lincoln’s statement when he said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Not knowing much about NASCAR, but having a curiosity as to why it would even consider coming to Branson I talked with friends who are real NASCAR fans.

They kind of laughed at the situation and, in a collective sense said, “No way that is going to happen.” They sighted NASCAR problems of every sort and said, “Given the current environment, why would NASCAR even think of coming to Branson?” Now to be sure, they weren’t big NASCAR” executive or developer mucky mucks,” they were just fans familiar with NASCAR and its general operation, but they recognized what was being promoted for what it was.

Some might call it deceit, a lie or a ruse. To an Ole Seagull it appeared to be something stated as a fact that was not a fact. In fact, when more than 200 people attended an informational meeting on the proposed racetrack at the College of the Ozark’s Keeter Center, during the first week of June, it had become the “Branson Sports Entertainment Complex (BSEC)” and the words “NASCAR,” “race” “racetrack” or even “motor speedway” were not evident in the title of the proposed complex.

After all the initial publicity about it being a NASCAR racetrack etc., the BSEC director of development and construction, Tom Gammon had the gall to indicate that because the name NASCAR was used in connection with the initial announcements that some might have misperceived what the developers had in mind and were some are skeptical of the plan. That just might be the understatement of the year.

In a July 7, letter addressed “Dear Hollister and Branson area neighbors” Johnny Morris, an owner of Big Cedar Lodge, BassProShops and active within NASCAR said, “When this track was first announced, the promoters boasted it would host NASCAR events. I felt this was very strange since I had not heard anything from the France family (founders and principal shareholders of NASCAR) or any other NASCAR officials regarding this proposed track.

“Subsequent to the initial announcements, I have personally reached out to friends and associates at the highest levels in NASCAR and based upon what I have learned, I will be extremely surprised if NASCAR events are going to be sanctioned at this proposed track in the foreseeable future. The same holds true for the IRL (Indy Racing League).”

An Ole Seagull just has to believe that the NASCAR name was intentionally used initially when those responsible for its use either knew, or should have known, that there was going to be no NASCAR races at the facility. To him, that shows the integrity and caliber of the people the community is dealing with.

Now they appear to be in the midst of a big media campaign about how important the Complex is to the area, the over 2000 construction jobs it will create, hundreds of people it will employ etc. It is the typical “siren song” of the developer that the community has heard before, but dare a person hope that our local elected, paid, and unofficial leaders will not just give the developers what they want at the taxpayer’s expense?

“Well Seagull, what would you do if you were one of the above?” Fair question, here’s four things he would do for starters before going one step farther in any relationship with this facility or the people involved with it. He would ask for:

1. A complete explanation of why they initial used the NASCAR tie in with their project including the names of NASCAR officials authorizing such use?

2. The execution of a binding agreement stating that if the project is approved at least 75% of the salaries and total payroll paid to construction workers constructing the facility will be paid to residents of Taney County.

3. The execution of a binding agreement stating that if the project is approved that at least 90% of the hundreds of jobs will go to Taney County residents and that each will pay at least 1.25 time the Federal Poverty level guidelines for a family of two adults and two children and adjust that level annually as new guidelines are announced.

4. The execution of a binding agreement stating that of the “about 50 percent of the planned events at the facility [that] will be for non-motorsports events, such as concerts and other civic or church events,” no more than four music concerts annually may be advertised and marketed, either separately or in conjunction with any other “for profit” paid admission event.

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