Tooele • The slow process of finding a buyer for Utah Motorsports Campus, formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park, is moving forward.
The Tooele County Redevelopment Agency (RDA) has acquired the 512-acre property. County commissioners approved the purchase agreement with the RDA by a 3-0 vote during a 35-minute meeting Wednesday night.
The RDA will now begin looking for buyers or parties interested in a long-term lease.
"We recognize this is the best vehicle we have to do what we are trying to do," said County Commissioner Wade Bitner.
The RDA's goal, said attorney Craig Smith, is to "maximize a very valuable asset here in Tooele County."
The asking price for the racetrack will be at least $20 million, including a 20 percent deposit. Parties will be asked to provide evidence of knowledge in the auto racing industry as well as a sound plan for the future of Utah Motorsports Campus.
According to Smith, there is no deadline for a sale or lease agreement, although the RDA plans to move "as quickly as we can."
On Tuesday, however, a company hoping to purchase the racetrack filed a new lawsuit in 3rd District Court to stop the process.
In a document filed with the court, Wyoming-based Center Point Management described Tooele County's intent to sell the Utah Motorsports Campus to the RDA as "wrongful and illegal."
"Right now, it has no impact," Smith said. "Obviously people have the right to file lawsuits. [But] we believe we are doing everything properly and legally, so we are going to continue on until someone tells us to do something different."
The contentious battle for ownership of the racetrack property began in 2015, when the family of the late Larry H. Miller announced it would not renew its lease with Tooele County.
The County Commission, in turn, accepted a $20 million offer from China-based Mitime Investment and Development Group to purchase the property.
In December, though, 3rd District Court Judge Robert Adkins ordered the sale process to start over after Center Point Management said in its original lawsuit that the county unlawfully accepted an offer that was less than fair market value.
Center Point Management says in court documents that its offer has always been $28.1 million — significantly more than Mitime's bid of $20 million, but one without promises of long-term investment in the property.
In January, Tooele County hired Mitime to manage the track and keep it operational until the ownership dispute is resolved.
"The county found themselves in a very difficult position of having this facility and having no business here," Utah Motorsports Campus president Alan Wilson told The Salt Lake Tribune at the time. "They had three choices: shut it down, run it themselves or find someone to run it.
"If they put it in mothballs for six months, they would have lost everyone and everything. … It would have taken years to rebuild. So they selected the management process and we were the only ones who stood up and said, 'We'll manage it.' There was no one else offering to do it."
Last week, Tooele County announced its intent to transfer the property to the RDA.
According to Center Point Management's new lawsuit, the commissioners engaged in an "end run" of judge Adkins' earlier ruling, with the intent to sell to Mitime for the previous price of $20 million.
"The county has refused to consider Center Point's offer and intends to proceed, or has proceeded with, the sale of the property," it said.