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Taxpayer cost of NASCAR Chicago street race unknown

The city of Chicago will host a NASCAR race next summer. The taxpayer cost of the event is not yet known.

The first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street course race will take place on Sunday July 2, 2023, with a lower-level race running on Saturday July 1, 2023.

NASCAR officials and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the partnership during a downtown news conference on Tuesday.

When asked about the cost to taxpayers for the event, Lightfoot claimed it was still “too early to tell” and said other events such as Lollapalooza generate around $300 million in revenue each year.

According to a news release, Lakeshore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive, and surrounding streets will be used for a 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course. The checkered flag line and pit road will be located along South Columbus Drive in front of Buckingham Fountain. The course also will pass through Grant Park and approach Soldier Field.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Development and Strategy Ben Kennedy said this would be something the sport has never seen.

“In 75 years, our sport has never had a street course,” Kennedy said. “I am so proud and excited to announce today that on July 2, 2023, the NASCAR Cup Series will be coming to downtown Chicago.”

Lightfoot said she could not pass up the chance to bring NASCAR to the city and hopes the race will improve tourism.

“I think this will be one of those most iconic race courses, maybe ever,” Lightfoot said. “It will introduce a whole fanbase to what NASCAR is about in the city of Chicago, and we could not pass up on that opportunity.”

Kennedy and Lightfoot suggested that the partnership between the city and NASCAR has been going on for about a year. However, Brendan Riley, a Chicago alderman, claimed in a tweet that Lightfoot has had zero conversations with council members about the race.

“I hear the Mayor has approved a giant Hot Wheels Track in downtown Chicago: impacting residents and businesses in four different wards,” Riley said.

Reilly tweeted a graphic of Bill Clinton mouthing the word “Zero” in response to how many conversations he and other aldermen have had with the Lightfoot administration about the race.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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