By Anthony Caruso III
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal on Wednesday night, Heartland Motorsports Park owner Chris Payne admitted he is considering leaving its current site. Payne said that he is considering moving the track to the Kansas City, Missouri area.
“Heartland Motorsports is considering its options and looking into relocating, only because of the current situation — the current taxes and the threat of increasing them annually on a 30-year-old facility that’s only open six, seven months a year,” Payne admitted. “You can relocate elsewhere, with less taxes and a new facility, and be better off.
“My intentions certainly wouldn’t have been in the beginning to spend millions of dollars to rejuvenate and rebuild the facility, knowing that this is how it was going to end up. MY loyalty is towards Topeka, but Topeka doesn’t necessarily have loyalty towards Heartland, and I say that in reference to Shawnee County. They’re basically taxing me out of town or out of business.”
Payne said that it is impossible to run a profitable business through the facility after being hit with outrageous property taxes.
“There’s no way to survive with paying $50,000 a month in property taxes,” he said. “We’ve got it around the 30 (thousand) mark, but that’s after we spent tens of thousands of dollars to get it pushed from near 40 to 30, and the county has implied that they’re going to keep pushing and they’d just as soon see it close to $50,000 per month. It would be hard to justify ($50,000) a year, much less every 30 days.”
The owner said that he paid nearly $344,000 in taxes in 2018. He paid approx. $28,700 per month in taxes.
In addition, Payne’s group reportedly owes $522,000 in back taxes to Shawnee County. He even said that he even offered to donate the property back to the county. However, that offer was rejected.
“I offered to donate everything back to the city, with no liabilities,” he said. “No financial liabilities, no obligations — donate everything back that they had lost for the good of Heartland staying in Topeka and they declined. The city would own it and it would be tax exempt. The facility would probably pay rent to the city, so the city would get income off of it, but it would be their property. That makes it even more saddening, that they think so little of Heartland.”
The track was purchased by Payne and Todd Crossley of Shelby Development LLC in January 2016. The track opened in 1989 and hosts the NHRA Kansas Nationals every May.
Besides the drag strip, it also hosts a Grand Prix Road Course, Clay Oval, and a Motocross track.