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Senate Committee passes tax exemptions for Barber’s Motorsports Park and Museum

Then-Majority Leader Greg Reed presides over the Alabama Senate in 2018.

The Alabama Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee passed a bill Wednesday giving tax exemptions to the Barber’s Race Track for its expansion.

Senate Bill 296 is sponsored by State Sen. Bill Roberts, R-Mountain Brook.

Roberts said the Barber’s Motorsports Park and Museum is the number one tourist attraction in the state and the largest museum for motorcycles in the world.

Roberts said the Barber’s Motorsports Park and Museum is a nonprofit corporation founded by George Barber. He has invested $130 million in it. He said they are asking for some assistance on taxes to fund expansion out there. The money generated from the credit would be used to fund expansion at the park.

The bill would allow the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum to have sales and use tax exemption, to include construction materials, ad valorem tax exemptions.

“George Barber’s vision is to create a world-class tourist attraction for Alabama,” said Barber’s Vice President of Corporate Development Don Erwin.

Erwin said Porsche committed to putting its driving experience event out there even before construction was finished. The park has generated more than a 100,000 hotel nights usage.

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“This has been George’s vision,” Erwin said. “He has funded it entirely. He funded it because he wanted to make a difference.”

State Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, proposed an amendment that would allow the Talladega Motor Speedway to be able to participate in the same tax credit.

“The amendment would provide parity with the Talladega track,” McClendon said. “One is a for profit and one is not profit, but their mission is the same.”

When there appeared to be opposition, McClendon said he will have this prepared and distributed assuming the bill makes it to the floor.

“I have been very close to both of these tracks,” said State Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia. “I think we are comparing apples and oranges here. I don’t think you can compare these two. I am going to move to table the amendment.”

“When we give away, we give away,” said Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore. “I think we need to be a little more careful in how we do this.”

“Everyone’s got an important non-profit in their area,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.

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“My preference is that there be two bills,” Roberts said. “One for Barbers and one for Talladega.”

SB296 received a favorable report by the committee.

McClendon said he may bring his amendment when the bill gets to the floor of the Senate.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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