Tooele County says bidding will reopen for Miller Motorsports Park, defends original sale

Tooele County says bidding will reopen for Miller Motorsports Park, defends original sale

(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

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TOOELE — Tooele County's commissioners said Friday they are disappointed in this week's court ruling that voided the county's sale of Miller Motorsports Park to a Chinese automotive firm, and they added that the bidding for the purchase of the property will be reopened.

Third District Judge Robert Adkins said in a written ruling Thursday that Tooele County's deal with Mitime Investment and Development Group was unlawful, largely because the bid awarded the firm the property at a price below market value, which is prohibited when public property is sold. Adkins vacated the sale, saying that the $20 million offered by Mitime was significantly less than another offer from Center Point Management, which is headquartered in Wyoming.

The three Tooele County commissioners issued a joint statement Friday defending the third-party appraisal performed on behalf of the county that valued the property at $9 million.

"From Judge Adkins' ruling it appears that he believes that the fair market value of the property is simply the highest amount offered. ... Tooele County believes this is an incorrect interpretation of Utah law," the statement said.

However, the county said it will not appeal the ruling because its top priority is selling Miller Motorsports Park as soon as possible.

"Tooele County is committed to completing the sale of the property as quickly as possible in order to preserve the operation of (Miller Motorsports Park), its employees, and the businesses located at the facility," the county statement said.

The county added it will issue a public notice that it is again accepting bids for the property "and ... will accept the highest cash offer." It is unknown precisely when a public notice will be made.

Alan Wilson, president of Mitime Utah Investment, said in a statement that Mitime is still resolute on purchasing the property despite the setback, adding that the firm wants to preserve jobs there.

"Mitime Utah Investment ... is fully committed to following whatever process that Tooele County deems necessary to complete the sale of the property," Wilson said. "We feel it is imperative that the facility remain open for business, ensuring the employment of the track staff and enabling the garage tenants and their various businesses to remain intact. Keeping the track open for business will also benefit the revenues of Tooele County and area businesses."

Center Point Management originally filed a lawsuit against Tooele County in September, asking for a stop to the sale and saying the county improperly considered Mitime's bid using vague promises of the property's future development rather than hard figures. The company reportedly offered $22.5 million for Miller Motorsports Park in the original bidding process and said during the litigation that it would be willing to pay $28.1 million.

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