IRL chief takes turn with Mile

on .

Bernard says small support from state crucial for plan to work

Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard believes he and two partners can turn about $400,000 from the State of Wisconsin into a tourist attraction that would provide a return on the investment for years to come.

Bernard, who took over as head of the IndyCar Series sanctioning body last winter, was in Milwaukee last week to pitch his ideas for his series to come back to the Milwaukee Mile.

The track fell off the IRL and NASCAR schedules after promoter Wisconsin Motorsports defaulted last year on millions of dollars in payments due to both of them as well as landlord State Fair Park and other creditors.

Bernard met with Fair officials Thursday to share his ideas.

"We'd try to bring in ancillary events around it with some strong entertainment value to them," Bernard told the Journal Sentinel. "My goal would be to make it not just a city or state event but to bring in tourists."

That the IRL would even consider coming back to the Mile after going unpaid last time is a sign of the league's commitment to the proposed event, Bernard said.

"That track's sitting there not doing anything right now," he said.

"A $400,000 investment for one year is not much because - I know we can make it successful - if we can make it successful the event could go on for many years to come, which just continues to bring revenue on a yearly basis to the state."

Rick Frenette, executive director of the Wisconsin State Fair, said Monday that he had spoken with Bernard two or three times. No proposal has been made.

"We'd love to see something happen," Frenette said.

However, Frenette said the fair would not be in a position to provide financial assistance, only "something in the form of services." Bernard said the only one in position to make the financial commitment would be Gov. Jim Doyle.

"Even if he's a lame duck, he can do what's in the best interest of the state in trying to bring new tourism in," Bernard said.

"I think we have enough fans there that the fans could help put some pressure on the state. . . . My whole feeling is that if you send them to the fairgrounds it's going to fall on deaf ears. It needs to go to the governor."

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