FORT ERIE, Ont. -- Construction has now started at the site of the Canadian Motor Speedway, a $400 million project just across the border in Fort Erie.
Officials held a small, unofficial groundbreaking event earlier this month, as construction crews started preliminary site work on the speedway property just off the QEW.
The 820-acre project will have a larger groundbreaking that will include a community celebration this spring, when construction of the actual oval racetrack will begin.
Erik Tomas, a media consultant with the speedway, said the developers have already spent $17 million and waited 7 years to get to where we are today. Government approvals and regulatory hurdles led to the many delays.
However, Tomas said there's nothing to now stand in the way of the project, which local leaders said, once operational, will contribute up to $1 billion to the regional economy each year.
The project was designed by 4-time Sprint Cup NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon. The large complex calls for a 3/4 mile oval track, a road course, hotel, restaurants, retail, lots of parking, and even a motor sport research and development center.
The developers say they will work to attract a variety of high-quality types of racing. They cannot comment on the most common question, which is whether or not the track will attract Sprint Cup NASCAR races.
2 On Your Side spoke with a racing analyst, who pointed out NASCAR has expressed interest in further expanding in Canada. Also, those behind this project wouldn't spend $400 million without at least trying to attract the biggest races available.
Right now, the Canadian Motor Speedway is on track for a 2016 opening date, so racing is still a little more than a couple years away.