Kilometres of rolling racetrack, a specially designed area for police to train and numerous other sports and recreation facilities are included in the first-phase designs for a motorsports park being pitched northeast of Airdrie.
Metro was first to report in July 2012 on the work of the Rockyview Motorsports Corporation to establish a nearly $30-million racing centre that many hoped would replace Calgary’s Race City, which shut down in 2011.
Now, the team behind the Rockyview development has been carting designs of their development around to automobile shows in the Calgary area.
“This is going to be more than just auto sports,” corporation President Dominic Young said Sunday. “We want to see all sorts of sports and recreation.”
As an example, Young said a group has come forward hoping to establish a soccer centre with both indoor and outdoor fields. The concept designs also show room for tennis courts and Young said he could see hockey arenas being established onsite as well.
There will also be a portion of the roughly 400-acre site devoted to a centre focused on automobile and motorcycle safety. Young said his group intends to explore possible partnerships with Alberta Transportation and the Alberta Motor Association.
The racetrack’s design has been undertaken by internationally renowned German engineer and architect firm Tilke, which recently developed the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track near Austin, Texas, and is working on a circuit in Sochi for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix next year.
About 1.8 kilometres of the track will be designed with the Calgary Police Service in mind — Young said his group met last week with members of the service and they’re “very much onboard” to establish a vehicle training centre there. It would be similar to one they’d hope to build near Chestermere before the proposal was voted down by Rocky View County council.
That same council holds the key to whether Rockyview Motorsports Park ever actually drops a checkered flag. Young said a proposal for Phase 1 of the project is nearly complete and will be put forward after municipal elections in October.
Councillor Lois Habberfield, who will seek re-election in the fall, said Sunday major concerns for Rockyview constituents will include potential noise issues, actual benefit to the county and potential traffic snarls.
“As with any proposal, you really have to weigh the pros and cons,” she said.
Habberfield has not yet seen the designs, but Young said his group will install berms where necessary and has found a wall material that absorbs noise.
He refrained from specifying exactly where the track will be established northeast of Airdrie because Rockyview Motorsports has not met with all of what he called “a handful” of residents that will be impacted.
So far, $5.5 million has been contributed to the project through a founders program and Young said additional private equity will be sought after the application process is completed. As well, 6,500 people have signed a letter supporting the project.
There are also longer-term plans for future development phases that Young said could include an off-road or motocross racing course, and, potentially, a drag strip.
His group will also watch closely long-term plans from Alberta Transportation to establish an “Airdrie bypass road,” that would route traffic from northeast Calgary and East Balzac onto Highway 2 at a connection point just north of Airdrie.
That bypass road would run just east of the Rockyview Motorsports Park site and could lead to major traffic coming through the area.
“That really could define what we’re doing here,” Young said.
Lee Robertshaw lives near Airdrie and had previously raced vehicles at Calgary’s Race City for decades. He went over proposals for the Rockyview Motorsports Park with Young on Sunday and said he fully supports the project.
“The big problem is there’s no playground for the kids and their and they’re out playing on the streets,” he said. “When kids had the Secret Street (a weekly event at Race City), it didn’t eliminate that but it certainly reduced it.”
More information about the proposed track can be found at rockyviewmotorsports.com.