Six years ago when I first visited Kansas Speedway for an IZOD IndyCar Series race, there was a McDonald’s and the racetrack’s yellow-blue checkerboard seats. That’s about it. Want BBQ? Drive to KC (Masterpiece in Overland Park; also the abbreviation for Kansas City, Mo., about 25 minutes away).
Today, despite the continued sluggish economy, acreage at the confluence of I-70 and I-435 in Wyandotte County continues to be red hot with retail, entertainment and restaurant development.
The latest structures being erected are an 18,000-seat stadium for the Wizards of MLS just off France Family Drive (positioned nicely near the massive Cabela’s, Nebraska Furniture Mart and family-themed water park Great Wolf Lodge) scheduled to open in 2011 and a 100,000-square-foot casino/hotel complex that will overlook Turn 2. Starting in 2012, maybe you’ll be able to place a wager on the race while you’re watching it live.
A hotel in the framing stages across the street from the new stadium will make it an even dozen in the vicinity (that first trip we had to stay near the airport, about 30-minute drive). More than two dozen chain eating establishes exist – from Ted’s Montana Grill to our Texas-trip must-have Taco Bueno to another favorite, Cold Stone Creamery). A Walmart recently joined Target and Best Buy as big-box retailers, and there are a number of higher-end shopping places in the Legends outdoor mall.
No longer is Kansas Speedway out in the middle of nowhere. The area is a destination, with the racing facility a lightly-used property with eye-catching (if slightly tacky) blue-yellow checkerboard seats.