A Flag in the Ground and Emotions Flow…
Canadian Motor Speedway investors are making significant progress in discussions with Ontario Provincial Ministries to clear final site plan conditions for Canada’s first world class oval speedway designed by racing legend Jeff Gordon, that connects to a fully integrated road course, research and development park and major entertainment complex in the Town of Fort Erie Ontario.
As part of the developers’ on-going commitment to the community, CMS marked a critical milestone on the projects’ time line this week with the opening of a corporate office in The Town.
The new office at 168 Garrison Road, with its distinctive auto racing theme and decor, provides CMS management and staff with a permanent meeting place to conduct Speedway business, and to oversee the next phase of engineering and construction work on site, just around the corner from the office, targeted for the Spring of 2015.
Canadian Motor Speedway Executive Director Azhar Mohammad described a surreal feeling as he officiated at the grand opening. Given the long, tedious, protracted and very expensive process CMS has had to endure over the last decade, you fully understand what he means.
Mohammad related over a celebratory slice of CMS cake after the official ribbon-cutting, the opening was a very important day for CMS, symbolic of another great milestone achieved by his team. With a permanent presence in Fort Erie, management and staff will be well equipped to not only keep the community updated in terms of hiring, managing site work, and marketing, more importantly it reinforces confidence they are on the ground with work continuing on the facility.
Canadian Motor Speedway CEO Ibrahim Abou Taleb feels the same way, stating the opening is another great chapter in CMS’ development schedule, and there should be no doubt management and the investors are here for the long term success of the Town, Region and Province, fully committed to this game changing initiative.
John Bickford, Vice President and General Manager, Jeff Gordon Inc., the man who established the connection between the Speedway and the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion as the official designer of the ¾ mile oval portion of the racing complex, is never afraid to turn a colourful phrase.
John reminded everyone major projects around the world have significant thresholds, and called the opening of the CMS corporate office in Fort Erie a stepping stone to paradise. Bickford said, “It might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but this is a major accomplishment. It’s one more footprint that says this project will be completed. For Jeff Gordon Inc., this is the CMS flag in the ground. We have an address and we are moving forward.
The most heartfelt show of emotion at the opening of the CMS Corporate office came from the out-going Mayor of The Town of Fort Erie, Doug Martin, who’s retiring from public life in a matter of days.
Mayor Doug has been an unfailing champion of the Speedway development from the time it was first mentioned, helping steer support for CMS at the Town, Regional and Provincial levels.
CMS wanted to make sure they opened their corporate office in Doug’s town before he officially retired, and when Executive Director Azhar Mohammad called Mayor Martin “Family’, as he presented Doug with a special limited edition Jeff Gordon autographed die cast model car, Martin was clearly choked with emotion with noticeably moist eyes.
There were a few more pairs of moist eyes in the room as Martin addressed the gathering. Martin is one of many who knows too well the hurdles the CMS development has had to clear to get to this point in its history.
“There were times when we wondered if this was really going to happen. With all the challenges that we’ve had, and the road blocks we ran into, to see this actually happening is really great. This is my last week on council as Mayor, so to get this done before I leave office is very special. This is a definite signal to the Town that this is real, we are going forward. Stop asking the questions! Get behind us as we’re ready to go! We’ve started to move some dirt and we’re going to be open in 2017.”
Jim Thibert, General Manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation struck a key point when he stated the office opening is very important, and hopes it will build a bridge between the government’s attitude using the word “IF” when talking about CMS, and the private sector who use the word “WHEN” Canadian Motor Speedway is completed and ready for operation, now projected for 2017.
The opening of the Canadian Motor Speedway Corporate office in Fort Erie is just another critical step in the development of Canada’s first racing, entertainment, retail and research and development complex that will include a banked oval large enough to accommodate the major auto racing sanctioning bodies in the sport.