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Published March 09 2010

Schatz, RRVF board reach deal: Racing will be on in West Fargo this summer pending board’s final approval at 6 p.m. today

The Red River Valley Speedway has made a recovery.

Danny Schatz and the Red River Valley Fair board have come to a lease agreement.

Pending the board’s approval, a roller-coaster ride that has lasted more than five months will end with another summer of racing at the West Fargo track.

The board will hold a special meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the Hartl Ag Building to finalize the deal.

“It hasn’t been signed, but it’s one of those things where all sides are in agreement,” fair manager Bryan Schulz said. “We just have to bring it in front of the board for approval.

“I don’t see any other hang-ups.”

In late September, the fair board said they wouldn’t be able to continue running the track for financial reasons.

Enter Schatz, who started lease negotiations with the fair board in October. Talks broke down in mid February, when Schatz told the board he wasn’t interested in negotiating anymore.

But the sides got back together and ironed out their differences over the last couple weeks, setting up tonight’s meeting.

“We were more concerned about the wording of the lease, and we didn’t want to have any issues,” Schatz said. “This is a big contract, and both sides wanted to be comfortable with it.

“This is an operation with a lot of people involved, and we had to get sure we recognized that everybody was comfortable.”

The biggest hang-up came down to a number of race dates, and it seems the sides have met in the middle.

“In the agreement, it states that he’ll have 30 nights total of racing,” Schulz said. “It’s 20 nights of weekly Wednesday races, and 10 other nights.”

Schatz intends on changing the track from a half-mile to a three-eighths-mile track, and he said he wanted to get that construction done for this season.

“We’ll start as soon as we can,” Schatz said. “We hope they’ll approve the thing, and we are preparing to move forward – hopefully without any other hiccups.

“They don’t have any problem with my investment plans for the track, and if I’m going to be successful, that’s what I need to do.”

Schulz said he was glad the board and Schatz reached an agreement so that this summer wouldn’t be the first in 42 years without races at the track.

“We’ve never said that we didn’t want racing, but financially we couldn’t do it anymore,” Schulz said. “We’re glad a guy like Danny is going to do it, and we’re glad there is going to be racing.

“It has been a very long, drawn-out process, and we’re hoping that once we sign the contract it will be a huge exhale for all of us.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548