Fort Worth, Texas Motor Speedway Reach Deal on Mineral Rights

Compromise settles dispute over millions of dollars in natural gas revenue

The City of Fort Worth and Texas Motor Speedway settled a debate Wednesday over who owns millions of dollars worth of mineral rights under the racetrack.

Under the deal, the Fort Worth Sports Authority will get all the money from natural gas drilling on the sprawling land along Interstate 35W in far North Fort Worth, but much of the windfall would fund improvements at the track.

"I think it's a very good deal," said city councilman Carter Burdette, who helped negotiate the compromise. "It allows the gas money to benefit the racetrack and the city. I think both sides are happy."

The authority will use the funds to pay off its $15 million debt as soon as possible. 

The $350,000 in tax money now generated by the speedway, which had been used to pay the debt, will be returned to the city budget, said city spokesman Jason Lamers.

Once the debt is paid off, the authority will use 75 percent of the money to fund improvements at the track and the roads around it. The other 25 percent will go to Fort Worth's general budget.

If the total royalties exceed $50 million, the speedway will get any additional funds.

But consultants hired by the city doubted the royalties would reach $50 million, Burdette said.

The compromise comes after months of debate and a likely lawsuit.  It still must be formally approved by both the authority and the speedway.

The Texas Motor Speedway, which leases the land from the authority and has the right to buy it eventually, had argued it was entitled to the all the natural gas revenues.

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