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Speedway predicts music festival will happen next summer despite lawsuit to stop it

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 13. 2017 2:22PM
A general view of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway is shown in this 2013 photo. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports/File)

LOUDON — The chief executive of New Hampshire Motor Speedway is confident the venue will host a two-day country music festival next summer despite neighbors suing to stop it.

Three Canterbury property owners abutting the speedway are seeking a permanent injunction to block the festival, claiming a 28-year-old settlement agreement prohibits musical performances that are not related to a racing event.

The lawsuit names NHMS and the town of Loudon and was filed Dec. 11 on behalf of Arnold Alpert, Judith Elliott and James Snyder, who were all signatories to the 1989 settlement, which states NHMS "shall not permit any musical concerts of any type or description to be held on the premises currently known as New Hampshire International Speedway, except in conjunction with racing events."

NHMS Executive Vice President and General Manager David McGrath says that agreement does not apply to the upcoming festival because it isn't being held at the track, but instead will happen on land that was never a part of the 1989 agreement.

"At the end of the day, they feel we don't have a right to hold the concert and we feel that we do," McGrath said. "We base that on the fact that the property that existed in 1989 is different from the property that exists today.

"When that agreement was signed, we didn't even own the land where the concert will be held. We are not holding the concert on the infield, using the grandstand as seats for the fans."

Anticipating that argument, abutters contend that bathrooms are located on property subject to the 1989 settlement, ticket sales would be handled from the main office, and utilities like phone and electricity would originate there.

A 2018 concert to be held between June and September was approved by the Loudon Zoning Board of Adjustment in September. During public hearings, the ZBA refused to consider the 1989 settlement agreement.

"In response to a corporate decision to relocate a NSACAR race from New Hampshire to Las Vegas, (NHMS) now seeks to violate the settlement agreement that brought peace between the town, NMHS and petitioners for the past 28 years," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit can be viewed below:

Untrue says McGrath. NHMS learned the September race would be moved in February, he said, but had met with Loudon selectmen regarding a music festival in July 2016 and began negotiating with concert promoter Live Nation in 2015.

In the lawsuit, abutters express concern music festivals will grow in size and frequency in the years ahead.

"NHMS has stated that it intends to conduct music festivals on a permanent basis, and that it intends to seek additional music concerts in the future if the 2018 concert is successful," the lawsuit states. "If NHMS is consistent with its prior practices, it will seek incremental changes, thus avoiding the cumulative effect of its expansions."

Asked if any of the speedway's partners have expressed concern over the lawsuit, McGrath said "Not yet."

"We fully anticipated this action from these plaintiffs, so our partners in this whole deal are well aware of our progress, and we're OK," he said.

Courts Business General News

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