SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – The International 500 Snowmobile Race attracts people to the Soo from all over the country, Canada, and beyond every year.

As the 53rd annual I-500 is gearing up for next weekend’s big race, the Sault Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is finding a way to make this winter destination be used all year-round.

“For years and years and years we’ve all talked about what else can we do with that piece of property. And it’s actually a partnership with the city of Sault Ste. Marie and the Sault Convention and Visitors Bureau,” said Linda Hoath, executive director of the Sault Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “So, tourism doesn’t always get grants, you know, so this was an opportunity for us to go after an EDA grant. It would be crazy for us not to even try because whether we get it or not, we know what we want to do, and we have a plan now. So it’s about taking that plan and moving forward on it.”

That plan is to use the $2.5 million Economic Development Administration Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant to transform the track grounds for other recreational activities. The city would have to raise half a million dollars of that grant, which Hoath says they’ve already been working on fundraising efforts.

“In the wintertime is a one-mile ice oval well we have that whole area where we can do concerts, we can do all kinds of different things. We can do stock car races on dirt, motorcycles. You can actually do running. One of the major things is the roadway in. In the wintertime, we can do it because it’s frozen. But to pave it all the way in would be the best part of everything for us. Plus another building, plus taking the slopes and making it so people can stand on them at different levels. It will be really great. And not only that, it’s an entrance to our city it’ll make it look a lot nicer, too,” said Hoath.

The city of Sault Ste. Marie and the Convention and Visitors Bureau won’t know until June if they received the grant. Hoath said they would still move forward with plans for the track if they don’t receive the grant but would have to fundraise all of the funds and may take longer to develop.

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