Archive for Saturday, September 30, 2006

NASCAR weekend a boon for Lawrence business

September 30, 2006


Lawrence hotels and campgrounds are packed this weekend as NASCAR fans have made the trip from across the country.

Other businesses hope to celebrate a victory in sales this weekend with NASCAR's version of the playoffs at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

"It is good news for us. To the tune of an extra 20 to 30 percent, it's a good weekend for us," said Rusty Mather, manager of Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse, 719 Mass.

"We are very busy both nights. This is definitely one of the biggest weekends consistently every year," said Jeff Weber, front desk clerk at Econo Lodge, 2222 W. Sixth St.

All 108 rooms there are full for the weekend, he said, and he expected to tell about 20 people per night about restaurants around town.

Jets have swooped in and brought race teams and pit crews to the Lawrence Municipal Airport for the past few days.

Avid racing fans have already pulled their recreational vehicles into the Lawrence KOA Campground to see qualifying races Friday, the Busch Series Yellow Transportation 300 race at 2 p.m. today and NASCAR's Banquet 400 on Sunday.

NASCAR fans and friends of Sonny Sales, Crescent, Iowa, left, watch as Sales raises a flag pole with an assortment of racing flags at the Lawrence KOA Campground, 1473 U.S. Highway 40. Racing fans were gathering Friday around Lawrence for a weekend of NASCAR events at the Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR fans and friends of Sonny Sales, Crescent, Iowa, left, watch as Sales raises a flag pole with an assortment of racing flags at the Lawrence KOA Campground, 1473 U.S. Highway 40. Racing fans were gathering Friday around Lawrence for a weekend of NASCAR events at the Kansas Speedway.

Susan Ramirez, the campground's manager said it's the busiest annual weekend. On Friday afternoon they had more than 100 RVs hooked up, 40 RVs camping without utilities and 20 tent reservations.

"They call us NASCAR junkies," said Sonny Sales, of Crescent, Iowa, who was staying at the campground. "I've scheduled my vacation from work around NASCAR for the last two years."

"You've got to go and feel the thrills and the people standing up, the vibration through your body, and seeing the drivers go around the track. It's exciting," said Sales, who made the trip with his wife, Donna.

With the excitement around the sport, when it comes to bolstering the Lawrence economy, NASCAR finishes second to Kansas University home football games, according to Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The bureau hasn't done a formal study to determine the economic effect the speedway and its thousands of fans have had on the Lawrence area.

During KU football weekends, fans tend to not only fill up hotels, but spend money in restaurants and on entertainment, Billings said. Most of the racing fans will fill up the hotels but spend the day in Kansas City, Kan.

Lawrence tourism officials also want to see if there was an impact here from The Legends at Village West, a 750,000-square-foot outdoor shopping and entertainment lifestyle center next to the racetrack. The Legends center, which has about 70 stores and restaurants, opened in April.

Several Lawrence hotels reported being booked for the weekend, and restaurateurs were hoping for a spillover.

"We're hoping we will be busy. Looking back last year, we did see a little bit. Nothing way over the top, but we did see a little bit of a push," said Shannon Winfrey, a general manager at Old Chicago, 2329 Iowa.

Typically, home KU football and basketball games make a bigger impact, she said.

"It's as big as home games in basketball, and football home games are starting to fill up as well. Anytime we have a major race like that in Kansas City, we fill up," said Perry Martin, general manager of the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive.

- Staff writer Sophia Maines contributed to this article.


Sigmund 11 years, 6 months ago

The use of eminent domain for a private purpose was more than "fairly egregious" in my mind and I hope it is never done again. The Kansas Statute isn't nearly strong enough and I hope, like you, it is NEVER used by the Lawrence or Douglas County officals, ever!

That said, if KC and Lawrence area residents were travelling and buying in Omaha's NFM for years, what makes you think that residents outside of KC metro are not traveling to and buying from KC's NFM? If that store held on to and expanded its existing KC market share AND is attracting customers from outside the area like its Omaha store did/does I would suspect furniture store sales (and tax revenues) increased here and decreased in Nebraska (at least to the extent of sales in NE were from KS residents).

As to furniture sales increasing at the expense of other sales, if consumers are spending more on furniture and less on other consumer goods, what business is it of yours???

All told it is not a shell game its called vibrant economic growth, something you and your PLC Kommissioners have little experience with.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

"$160,000 per year before the track to about $3million now."

That's a very meaningless statistic unless you also include the costs to the state and county in creating and maintaining the infrastructure these developments require.

While the crowds might be good for some businesses, they are a pain in the a** for anyone in the area that has to put up with the traffic, etc.

And the impact on the area of someplace like Nebraska Furniture Mart can't be fully assessed without considering the great number of competing businesses that have been put out of business by them, and the blight that will likely result.

Sorry, dudes, this ain't no free lunch-- just a shell game.

compmd 11 years, 6 months ago

What I want to know is what NASCAR driver has that stupid, butt-ugly Dornier 320 Jet parked at the Lawrence Airport. At least Junior has taste with a Lear 60.

oldgoof 11 years, 6 months ago

Yup.... they gave away virtually all the benefit of growth for what....30 years or more to get the growth.... i.e. property taxes and sales taxes. I don't think the people around here would ever quite buy into that.
... and not that I am one of those, but I wouldn't want to be any closer to the track than I am.

Sigmund 11 years, 6 months ago

If the shells are marked "NE", "KS", and "Other" and the economic pea is consistently under the "KS" shell I might tend to agree. I actually want "KS" to win the competition for sales dollars, and sales tax revenues that come with it, at the expense of NE and Other.

But your analogy of the economy to a shell game is flawed. The shell game implies a zero sum game. While some economist believe it is a zero sum game, the vast majority of modern economist believe that is not the case. This is the essential difference between socialist theories and capitalist theories of economics.

When I call the Business Czar and the PLC Kommissioners socialist, it is not mere rhetoric. I do believe they hold the zero sum game view of the economy where they can centrally plan and micromanage consumers and business to pick and choose winner and losers.

I think most would agree that capitalist economies have generally out performed socialist economies over the last couple of centuries. On average it is my impression that both the rich and the poor in capitalist societies are better off than their counterparts in socialist economies. If history had shown the reverse, I too would be a marxist.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

I guess while we're busy speaking for everyone else, I'll do my part.

Pilgrim and Marion:

"All those people who we accuse of thinking they know everything are really annoying those of us who really do."

Sigmund 11 years, 6 months ago

X is unknown, not fixed, and subject to change moment by moment. For that very reason, who produces what and distributes it is best managed by a capitalist, not socialist, economies, at least if recent history of various economies and emphirical economic measures are of any value. I am sure NE and Other will find other goods and services to produce and be able to replace the lost sales to KS's NFM.

Being focused on days, quarters or years makes no difference on zero sum games. It either is or it isn't and at least to the extent you admit there is such a thing as growth not at the expense of others, it clearly is not. That is why only a few radical marxist economist, the PLC Kommissioners and the Buiness Czar believe it is and why the vast majority of economist believe it clearly is not.

Given the history of capitalist and socialist economies and given the emphirical measures of their relative performance, I think your belief in socialism is much more "faith based" than mine in capitalism.

Sigmund 11 years, 6 months ago

Bozo, great point. I don't know, and neither do you, whether more furniture is being sold by NFM than by those business who couldn't compete with NFM. My guess is yes, yours is no. My point being it is none of the governemnts business to try and micromanage economies. It just doesn't work.

BTW, just for the record, I hate the KC incarnation of NFM and if i buy new furniture I will most likely buy from a smaller store with much higher prices but better service. But NFM does cater to the "price sensitive" shopper.

Did you know they open this store because for years and years so many purchases from the Omaha store were from KC and Lawrence residents that they had nearly daily deliveries from Omaha to this area? They were already a market force here long before the KC store opened.

I do find it funny and ironic that NFM is owned by the multi-billionaire Warren Buffet the cause celeb of the progressive liberal elite!

compmd 11 years, 6 months ago

"Hey, the 320 Jet is can stand up and walk around. Try doing that in a lear jet." -Reality_Check

Right, but its also meant to hold up to 30 people whereas the Lear 60 holds 9. Then again, the Learjet will get you where you're going a little quicker than the 320 Jet. Junior also has an Embraer 120, which, even though its a turboprop, is much nicer than the Dornier in my opinion.

I never thought much of NASCAR (I prefer Formula racing) but I did think higher of Junior for his choice of aircraft.

Sigmund 11 years, 6 months ago

Bozo, how many businesses have been put out of business by Nebraska Furniture Mart? Even assuming some businesses closed because of NFM, was there an net job gain or loss? Were there a net increase in sales (and therefore more sales tax revenues) after NFM?

Is it the governments (or the Business Czar's) job to decide which business wins in the free market?

$2,840,000 ($3,000,000 - $160,000) PER YEAR INCREASE IN TAX REVENUES is not a meaningless amount of money. I doubt the bonds the PLC Kommissioners issue for their new library will be paid off eight years early.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

So any gain for Wyandotte County has come at the expense of Nebraska. That's good for Wyandotte County, but there is no net increase in sales tax revenue-- the shell game.

BTW, I was not making any value judgement on where people spend their money. I was just pointing out that shifting sales from one consumer good to another or from one store to another doesn't increase net sales tax revenue.

I understand a shell game being portrayed as "economic growth."

A_Guy 11 years, 6 months ago

Actually, their investment is paying off already. They've cut the property tax rate by 25% since 1997. They are also going to pay off the bonds 8 years faster than they thought they were. Somewhere I heard that they'd be paid off by 2013 instead of 2021, but I couldn't guarantee that. Here's a bit of information:

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

"My point being it is none of the governemnts business to try and micromanage economies."

The use of eminent domain to hand this property over to these businesses is a fairly egregious example of government doing exactly that.

Like you, I'd prefer to buy from a smaller company with better service. Probably more money, but you get what you pay for.

Even if furniture sales have gone up somewhat since the opening of NFM, overall incomes in this areas haven't increased dramatically since then, so increased sales of furniture just mean decreased sales of something else, meaning sales tax revenues have seen no net growth because of this development.

Like I said-- it's a shell game.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

The state of Kansas only needs X amount of furniture. Shifting the means of production or distribution of that furniture won't change that, no matter what your faith-based economic beliefs are.

At any given moment, there is only so much money in an economy, and there is only so much production that needs to be distributed. To that extent, any economy is very clearly a zero-sum game. Certainly, over longer periods of time, economies (even socialist ones) are less of a zero-sum game, but in this economy so focussed on quarterly profits, the zero-sum game is the biggest game in town. Otherwise, you wouldn't be so happy to take those furniture sales away from Nebraska.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

The success of any economy is more more dependent on an educated workforce, the availability of raw materials and a good distribution network than it is on the particular model employed.

And comparing the socialist/totalitarian model of the former Soviet Union (which evolved directly from a totalitarian/fuedal system) to that of the US is too simplistic to even consider.

Western Europe in general is considerably more socialistic and more democratic than the US, and its standard of living compares quite favorably-- it's even considerably better on many measures.

Markets are a fine way to run an economy, but they aren't magical. They are prone to manipulation and distortion by private actors just as much as by governments. Yes, government should "let" the markets work, but despite your religious beliefs to the contrary, markets only work if there is some amount of regulation, and that regulation has to come from a democratic government controlled by a well-educated populace, something we don't have much of.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 6 months ago

nfm sucks they are snobs and have terrible service but that could be just the people who work in this store but I will not be going back there. Marion you forgot about NHRA they rule also. wish I had tickets for tom. race but todays will be cool also, beside got highschool drags tom. so gotta go was the kids.

lunacydetector 11 years, 6 months ago

marion, kansas city, kansas....they sure have turned things around compared to lawrence. oh, that's right...they grew!

wow, growth pays. in a town full of educated idiots such as lawrence, you'd think these fascists would eventually see the error in their ways, but they have to remove the blinders first and open their minds.

A_Guy 11 years, 6 months ago

The funny part is that Kansas City, Kansas is very very liberal. The policies that they used to create the speedway are very very liberal. They used tax increment financing, star bonds, and lots of eminent domain. Complimenting Kansas City, Kansas's business efforts and then complaining that Lawrence is too liberal is a MASSIVE contradiction.

lunacydetector 11 years, 6 months ago

kind of like how the policy research institute delayed by one year the retail sales of the lawrence metropolitan area after we hit the $1 Billion in sales mark. a study paid for by the chamber. it's just a shell game that delayed growth for the retail sector by one year.

sigmund, i am so glad you mentioned warren buffet, the open marriage progressive elitist.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 6 months ago

So, Sigmund, are people buying more furniture now than before NFM came in?

Tychoman 11 years, 6 months ago

Who is it that said NASCAR represents the best of American values: Hot rods driving around in a circle as fast as they can, burning as much gas as possible?

Tychoman 11 years, 6 months ago

Marion you might need to get a new computer, your H-key isn't working. Unless--oh wow oh my God I can't believe I didn't see it before--you're purposefully omitting the H in my name to allude to the toy company? Is that it? Trying to do that to make me look immature? Man Marion I wish I were as clever as you. It keeps me up at night trying to think of ways to out-clever the most pompous, arrogant know-it-all on the LJWorld forum. I never thought I'd resort to this tactic, but if I were you, Marion, I wouldn't be making fun of people's names.

If only more people were like you. rolls eyes

Tychoman 11 years, 6 months ago

Oopsie. Sounds like little old Marion doesn't like looking into a mirror.

Bobbi Walls 11 years, 6 months ago

We got to meet some of Bobby Labonte's crew tonight at the airport, and will be going again tomorrow. We cannot wait..

BlueRoom 11 years, 6 months ago

i love NASCAR racing. there is so much more to it than people realize. every track is different and the skill that these drivers and their pit crew have is the what makes the outcome of the race.

Tychoman 11 years, 6 months ago

Wikipedia? Yes, the seventh-grader's answer to everything. Act your age, Marion.

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