Milwaukee’s Empty Mile

Written by Corrinne Hess - BizTimes on .

Milwaukee's Empty MileWithout racing, ‘America’s Legendary Oval’ becomes concrete wasteland

The roar of Indy cars once thrilled young and old at the Milwaukee Mile, but these days the only thing capturing anyone’s attention is the amount of money still owed on the now quiet West Allis track.

The Mile’s storied history made “America’s Legendary Oval” an institution on southeastern Wisconsin’s sports and cultural scene for more than 100 years. But lawsuits and debt, fallouts with promoters and the overall decline of racing itself has left the Mile without a major racing event this year and nothing on the books for 2017.

Although some have not given up hope, there is no sign that racing will ever return to the track. The last organized race at the Mile, which once hosted racing legends Mario Andretti, Rusty Wallace and A.J. Foyt, was the now defunct Milwaukee IndyFest in July 2015.

“Racing is dead (at the Milwaukee Mile), but everyone is afraid to say it because talk radio will kill you,” said John Stibal, West Allis community development director.

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State Fair Park Executive Director Terminated

Written by Save the Mile Administrator on .

The Wisconsin State Fair Park Board voted unanimously tonight to terminate the employment of State Fair Park Executive Director Rick Frenette.

Frenette was in charge of the Wisconsin State Fair, the State Fair Expo Center and the Milwaukee Mile.

The termination reportedly ties back to merit raises that Frenette attempted to give to 30 state fair employees, including himself.  The raises were a "contravention of the rules and regulations of the Department of Administration" according to Frenette's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel.

The board named Kathleen O'Leary, who was the chief operating officer, as interim director.

There is no word at this time what effect this termination may have on the Milwaukee Mile.

Stay tuned for additional details on this developing story.

Slow Dismantling of the Milwaukee Mile?

Written by Save the Mile Administrator on .

Section YY Bleachers at Milwaukee MileOn March 3rd, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board placed section YY of the Milwaukee Mile bleachers up for auction on the popular GovDeals marketplace. The auction, which ends March 17th, allows interested parties to bid on the section of aluminum and steel grandstand bleachers. Section YY, which is located at the turn 4 end of the track, has a capacity of about 1,100 spectators. The winner of the auction will be responsible for removal of the bleachers between April 22nd and May 13th. Wisconsin State Fair Park will remove all utilities, and be responsible for restoration of the space once the bleachers are removed.

What does this mean for the Milwaukee Mile?

Many believe that the removal of Section YY could mark the start of a slow and systematic dismantling of the oldest continuously operating speedway in the world.

It's hard to argue that it's not.

The downsizing of grandstand capacity has been a common trend at many tracks nationwide. Tracks that have removed grandstands include Daytona, Atlanta, Charlotte, Las Vegas, and even Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The key difference between those grandstand reductions and what's happening at the Milwaukee Mile is simple: Those other tracks continue to host top tier racing series such as NASCAR, IndyCar and others.

With a lack of major league auto racing at the Milwaukee Mile in 2016, and the odds of it returning looking slimmer than ever, it's quite plausible that there may not be a need for the grandstand bleachers in the future.

This isn't the first time that grandstand seating has been removed from the track. Section ZZ was the first section of grandstand bleachers to be sold off without fanfare several years back. With Section YY being put up for auction this year, it would seem possible that others could be soon to follow.

Yet, the state has indicated that they are not giving up on the track.  Even with the removal of section YY, the Milwaukee Mile will still of a grandstand capacity in excess of 35,000.  With over 30 events on the 2016 calendar, there's optimism that the track can survive to make history again some day.

What can you do?

As always, we encourage you to show your support for the historic Milwaukee Mile by:

Signing our online petition

Contacting Lawmakers