Sudden Wayne Change

Wayne Huizenga drives a hard bargain at Homestead racetrack -- he'll make millions while Dade taxpayers are taken for a ride

Preparing the track for a Winston Cup race, if Homestead is ever lucky enough to get one, will require at least eight million dollars more in capital improvements, including additional parking, more seats, and re-engineering of the racetrack's curves to create NASCAR-required "constant radius turns." As of last week, earthmoving equipment and other heavy machinery were working late into the afternoon to do just that. For the moment, MMJV is paying the tab.

County Commissioner Bruce Kaplan vowed to visit Homestead City Hall during this past Monday's scheduled special-call meeting and harangue Homestead council members against any sale of the motorsports lease. "In addition, I'm going to ask the county to sue to enjoin any sale of the lease," Kaplan swore.

Should private business interests be permitted to make millions by selling control of a mammoth public works project? Not ideally, says former county commissioner Maurice Ferre. Ideals, however, exist mostly in the realm of the imagination. Because of its past decisions, Dade County now has little choice but to go along with whatever Sanchez, Huizenga, and the City of Homestead decide to do. Complaining about it amounts to crying over spilt milk, Ferre notes.

"Is this a slick, fast deal? Or is it merely business as usual? It's both things at the same time. But that's life in the tropics, my friend."

Update: As New Times goes to press, the Homestead City Council has unanimously approved a new lease with Huizenga and Sanchez. The amended lease allows MMJV to sell its controlling interest in the racetrack to France, provided France brings a Winston Cup race to Homestead. In return, MMJV agreed to pick up the full cost of police protection and liability insurance for the complex .

After some discussion, the council agreed to drop the city's request for seven million dollars. Sanchez, who spoke at the meeting, emphasized that MMJVand France have not signed a deal. Eventual compensation for himself and Huizenga -- the $50 million figure mentioned at the February 12 meetings -- remains to be determined.

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