New travel center breaks ground at track
Officials broke ground Tuesday on the newest addition to the Kansas Speedway and Tourism District in hopes of generating more tourism dollars in the area.
Representatives from the Kansas Speedway, Unified Government and the state broke ground on the new Kansas Speedway Travel Information Center during a ceremony at the entrance to the racetrack at Interstate 70 and 110th Street.
Kimberly Qualls, travel trade manager for the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, said the new center would bring in tourism dollars to Wyandotte County.
"I would see quite an impact," Qualls said. "For one thing, we're pulling them off the highway at one of the major attractions in the area."
Research indicates travelers who stop at a Kansas Travel Information Center spend an additional half-day in the state, according to the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.
Travelers coming to the new TIC are more likely to stay in the area and visit the Tourism District, where stores and restaurants are being built, Qualls said.
"If they're already there, they'll spend any extra time shopping," she said.
When travelers stop in Kansas, "we become a something -to-do-state," instead of a place to just pass through, Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer said during the ceremony.
Sherrer praised the racetrack for its contributions in bringing in revenue through businesses and tourism to the state.
"We cannot fully understand the impact of what the track means to this state," Sherrer said.
"(This) is going to be a first -class travel information center next to a first-class track," he added.
The new center will replace the existing TIC located east of the racetrack on I-70, after completion in the fall.
Two new TIC's, one in Belle Plaine and another in Goodland, are scheduled for completion this year, Qualls said.
Qualls said the state would like to add more but can't afford the costs.
"The travel information centers are very well used," Qualls said.
When completed, the facility is expected to entail more than 5,000 square feet with space for exhibits, retail sales of Kansas products and Kansas Speedway merchandise.
Kansas Speedway is building and will operate the center through an agreement with the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.
The state pays $1 a year for use of the building, track officials said.
"The (TIC) is another example of the tremendous impact our partnership with Kansas Speedway is having on our state," Sherrer said. "The success of the track is contributing to the success of many other tourist destinations in Kansas."
Kansas Speedway President Jeff Boerger said the racetrack hopes to continue the relationship with the state.
"Together we're going to get out the word about Kansas tourism and the great things this state offers," Boerger said.