Lifest to expand, as race track's future in Oshkosh now in doubt

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Oshkosh, Wis. (WBAY)- The future of the Oshkosh Speedzone is on question Tuesday night after a vote by the Winnebago County Board allowing Lifest to expand.

The Christian music festival is planning to build a permanent stage where the raceway sits now.

The board voted 24 to 8-- after re-visiting the issue for the second time since June.

Lifest officials say having a permanent structure will reduce the cost associated with a temporary site.

"We're excited, we're excited about the opportunity to put a foot print down in the county, in Winnebago County at the Sunnyview Expo Center. For 19 years it's been a part of our history, and we're just really looking forward to say now we're here to stay for the next ten years if not beyond," said Dave Romenesko of Life Promotions.

However---that construction will come at the expense of the Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway as both events are located on the site of the Sunnyview Expo Center.

Between 16-18 races take place each summer, and have gone on for the past 12 years.

Jeff Lemiesz, Co-owner of Impact Motorsports said,"I think they just wanted to get rid of the race track. Didn't matter what happened, they wanted to get rid of the race track." Lemiesz also added,"There's room out there, there's land that could be purchased to accommodate both, but unfortunately that's not what their looking at."

Right now Lifest is second largest tourist event in the county, attracting about 23 thousand people a day.

Other events can also be booked to perform on that stage when Lifest isn't going on.

Winnebago Co. Executive Mark Harris says there's interest in doing that from a group called Red Rock Productions which contacted the county November 17th.

In a letter Red Rock writes, "You would be creating something that would enable our company to bring many "A-list" touring artists to the site. Currently there are no facilities with that capacity north of Chicago. The largest are in Milwaukee, with a maximum capacity of 23,000."

Harris added, "What's important to the county is that they're going to invest $750,000 into a permanent stage. We will share the revenues with them for that stage the first ten years. Then the stage belongs to the county and the revenues are ours."

Lifest says they hope to begin construction on a new permanent stage as soon as possible.

Organizers of the race track say as of now they don't have a plan B. So all future races are on hold.