Memphis Motorsports Park will soon have a new owner after being out of commission for the past year.
The property will be sold at a live, on-site auction Dec. 14 at one of the facility’s parcel locations, 5500 Tay-For Road, near Millington.
Morris Auction owner and namesake Jeff Morris said he had not yet been cleared to speak on the issue, but he confirmed that the highest bidder will be required to pay a 10 percent bid deposit on the day of the auction, $100,000 of which must be a cashier’s check. The remainder must be a company check to make up the difference.
Situated on 375 acres in unincorporated Shelby County south of Millington, Memphis Motorsports Park is near the Millington Regional Jetport. The multi-track complex includes a 0.75-mile asphalt oval, a 0.25-mile championship drag strip and a 1.77-mile road course.
The park opened in 1987, and is the former site of more than 150 annual events including NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series races, as well as a number of NHRA races.
Consistently ranked as one of “Tennessee’s Top 10 Attractions,” Memphis Motorsports Park attracted more than 500,000 guests annually. In addition, the site is eligible for consideration as a test track by NASCAR teams, an amateur track, driving school or racing simulation attraction.
Despite the amenities, the facility’s owner, Dover Motorsports Inc., ended its 11-year run with Memphis Motorsports Park in October 2009. The property has been owned and managed by Memphis International Motorsports Corp., an affiliate of Dover.
Prior to closing, Dover had an agreement to sell the park to Gulf Coast Entertainment for $10 million, but Gulf Coast was unable to get financing.
But Dover’s troubles don’t stop there. Just last week, Dover, Del.-based Dover announced the ceasing of operations at Gateway International Speedway in St. Louis, which hosted more than 250 events throughout the racing season. The recent termination leaves Dover’s portfolio with only two speedways, Dover International Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway.
“Gateway is a tremendous facility in a great racing community, but we are simply unable to operate it with an acceptable return,” Dover Motorsports president and CEO Denis McGlynn said in a statement.
Indeed, the racing community has been hit hard during the recession. The issue at hand now is for the facility to remain a motorsports park.
A Facebook page called “Save Memphis Motorsports Park!” has more than 5,500 “likes,” with fans posting news and opinions of the site’s new ownership on a daily basis. Various sources have indicated the park has seen plenty of interest from potential buyers, including one as far away as Las Vegas.
But despite the support on social media, it wouldn’t be up for auction if it received adequate support, said John Roebuck, president, CEO and auctioneer of Roebuck Auctions.
“It’s unfortunate with the economy that’s happened in Memphis, people are struggling to pay their light and grocery bills and not having the extra funds to go to race tracks and things of that nature,” Roebuck said. “It’s putting a hardship on recreation businesses in general.”
In April, Andy Cates and Preston Thomas of Colliers International listed Memphis Motorsports Park for $6 million, a price “substantially below value,” according to the website created by the commercial real estate firm to sell the property. Cates declined to comment on the upcoming auction.
But the market is not providing a realistic expectation for the price tag.
“If you have cash, it’s a good time to buy; if you haven’t got cash, you can’t buy – it’s almost that simple,” Roebuck said. “I think the banks right now are the key to the success of all sales, in particularly at auction, and if the bank does not change an attitude to where they can do it, then a lot of the opportunity that we have to auction properties is not going to happen.”
The live, on-site auction begins Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. at 5500 Tay-For. The inspection date is set for Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., also at 5500 Tay-For.