Multi-purpose development to be built in Randolph County

Saturday, January 5, 2008 | 5:02 p.m. CST; updated 1:36 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Just 20 miles north of Columbia, a 440-acre lot of untouched land will be transformed into a $45 million venue, bringing racetracks, horse shows and tourists to mid-Missouri.

The project was started by a five-man team from the Junction Development Group, whose purpose is economic development in mid-Missouri. Robert Stone, Tony Stuart, Curt Hardin, Carl Edwards Sr. and David Babel have combined their experiences with motor sports and land development to dream up the multi-purpose property.

The venue, at the junction of U.S. 63 and Missouri Route 22, will include a wide array of attractions, such as a travel center, an industrial park, a hotel and motor-plex that features a dirt track, a paved road course and a quarter-mile drag strip.

One of the still-unnamed venue’s biggest features will be a multi-purpose coliseum that will hold horse shows, concerts and indoor-racing events.

Co-developer Tony Stuart said the coliseum, which should hold about 7,500 people, will be a flexible complex. “We can have a horse show on Wednesday, and then a concert that same weekend.”

The development group estimates that horse shows will amount for 50 percent of coliseum activity.

In researching the project, the group traveled to about 10 similar facilities throughout the U.S. and decided there was a need for one in Randolph County.

Stuart said there are already Missourians participating in these activities, such as dirt-track racing, but they have to travel out of the state to do so. “Now we can keep them close to home,” he said.

Russell Runge, president of the Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation, said the project should bring some much-needed sales tax revenue to a county that has run at a deficit for the past few years. “Everyone is looking at its future and how this project can be beneficial.”

Runge thinks it will bring a lot of business to Randolph County but not hurt existing race tracks in the area.

Even with the existence of the Boone County Fairgrounds and the Midway Expo Center, the developers think there is a medium-sized market that hasn’t been targeted.

“7,500 people is too large of a crowd for other local venues but not big enough to fill Mizzou Arena,” co-developer Curt Hardin said. He said representatives from large national events are already contacting them to possibly host an event.

The first entity that will be built is the travel center and fueling point at the southernmost tip of the property. Developers hope to work north and start building the coliseum in late 2008. Co-developer Robert Stone said he hopes to have all their main structures up and running by winter of 2010.

Currently, the group is applying for tax-incremental financing to help fund construction costs. The Randolph County Commission is forming a nine-member committee to determine if the Junction Development Group is eligible for the financing.

Doug Galaske, Eastern District associate commissioner, said this style of financing is available for areas that are blighted or underdeveloped. The county will use future gains in taxes that result from the finished racetrack to finance its initial infrastructure costs.

The Junction Development Group group will display plans at the Moberly Lifestyle Fair on Jan. 18 and 19. The fair is free and will be held at the Moberly Area Community College Activity Center at 101 College Ave. in Moberly.

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