Business owners concerned about Heartland Park racetrack

TOPEKA (KSNT) — In two weeks the Kansas Court of Appeals will hear the latest legal moves in the city of Topeka’s attempts to buy heartland park race track.

But while we’ve heard from those on both sides of the purchase argument – we’ve rarely heard from some of those caught in the middle.

Blocks away from the racetrack is an empty hotel parking lot and it looks like it’s going to stay that way.

“A lot of people are holding out because of what have been going on at this point in time so we’ve lost quite a bit of rooms,” said Kush Patel, owner of Super 8 hotel.

And next door is a brand new restaurant, with only two people eating inside.

“We were counting on heartland park greatly to bring out the people and the locals as well as out of staters,” said Mark Janice, owner of The Southern Star Café.

But by the way things are playing out there may not be any races this summer, which means no customers for these businesses.

The city’s attempt to purchase the financially troubled racetrack and sell $5 million in sales tax revenue bonds to improve the surrounding area, is currently entangled in a lawsuit by organizers of a petition who want the purchase put to a public vote.

If the plan to purchase the track does not move forward, there will be an $8 million shortfall for the city, and it comes from businesses like these.

With the racetrack being less than two miles away from these businesses, a lot of shop owners tell me with racing shut down they are worried about the summer… That’s when they make their money.

“Yes it is going to be quite a bit of a revenue loss for us,” said Patel.

Business owners in South Topeka say why take something away that brings fun and excitement to the city’s summers.

“It should be open, it should be running and it should stay where it is,” said Patel.

“We could use the business,” said Janice.

The hearing date is scheduled for February 26th. The appeals court will hear oral arguments on whether petitions to force a public vote on the sale are valid.

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