- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) - About 400 Onawa-area residents have attended a community event in order to learn more about a proposed drag racing strip that would be built on the site of the former Onawa Municipal Airport.

The Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1MMQwhG ) reports that the session at the Onawa Community Center offered information about the potential Onawa Racing and Entertainment Complex.

The City Council’s Alternate Airport Use Committee has proposed turning the old runway into a foundation for a new parking lot/pit area, as well as a 3,400-foot drag strip. The Onawa City Council closed the airport last July, citing a lack of use and revenue.

By the end of the racing season this fall, the drag strip could support races in three categories: 1/8-mile, 1,000 feet or 1/4-mile.

The nearest drag strips to Sioux City are I-29 Dragway in Pacific Junction, more than 115 miles away, and Thunder Valley Dragways near Parker, South Dakota, more than 90 miles away.

A 10-member board of Onawa Racing Inc. is selling $1,000 shares to fund the effort.

“We’d like to sell a maximum of 840 shares,” said Brett Ewing, president of Onawa Racing Inc. He said that investors may see a return on their investment in the future.

When $300,000 is raised, the city council will give $300,000 in Tax Increment Financing to help pay for construction of a building at the site.

The site host races as well as a wide variety of events, including gun shows, flea markets, tractor pulls and a hot air balloon rally.

Bill Wonder, treasurer for the Onawa Racing and Entertainment group, said the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration would’ve allowed people to host races once or twice per year at the old airport, but that hauling in temporary grandstands and safety barriers was an obstacle to doing so.

“Realistically, it was cheaper to close the airport and convert it permanently to an entertainment district,” Wonder said.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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