NEW LONDON – Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames is no stranger to the world of social media, and in turn he’s well versed in the insults bandied about across cyberspace concerning his struggles of ownership of the track.
He’s heard and viewed all the insults. All the insinuations that he’s a thief trying to steal from short track competitors and fans.
And after six years of fighting to regain financial stability with his business, nothing surprises him as far as the comments that are made.
“Regardless of what some of these parties would want you to believe, there are not bushel baskets of money being secreted out of the place,” Eames said Monday.
On Monday Eames got what he was hoping for in New London Superior court when Judge Emmet Cosgrove agreed to set an Oct. 18 auction date as part of the foreclosure proceedings taking place against the track. Creditors had been arguing for an April 12 auction, which would have essentially stripped away any hope that Eames had of trying to somehow dig out of the hole he’s in.
What Eames wanted to express to his detractors Monday was that he’s fighting as hard as he is because he wants to keeping racing alive at the Waterford Speedbowl.
“We spent $52,000 last year on grandstand repairs, in addition to paying off a whole bunch of bills left over from before last year,” Eames said. “In the last few years we’ve replaced the Armco barrier on the straightaways with concrete walls, we’ve paved substantially our parking lot, we redid the entrance to the place substantially, we paved the back pit road. We continue to reinvest in the place to the best of our ability. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t look like it because we haven’t been to have the big new building yet and that kind of thing. That’s where the money goes is that kind of stuff. The place is 63 years old in April and some of the wood they used was used wood when they built it in the first place. A facility like that takes a lot of constant care and we’ve been doing that constant care and that’s where the money goes. It doesn’t go in my pocket.”
Eames essentially said if he was in racing for some sort of take the money and run deal he would have done that a long time ago. Eames owes $2 million to creditors against a facility valued at just over $3 million. If he was able to sell it for fair market value he could possibly put $1 million in his pocket and walk away.
“I’m 60 years old, before I took over the Speedbowl I had a successful career in business management,” Eames said. “I made more than $100,000 a year before I took this job 18 years ago. I really take umbrage on what some of the commenters say that [I] do nothing but bleed the place. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I designed and built my dream house in the late 80’s. I don’t own that house any more strictly because I put that equity into saving this business.
“I don’t have a Harley, I don’t have a golf membership. … I sing karaoke one night a week, that’s my hobby. It’s very challenging when I hear ‘He’s just raping the place for his own gain.’ Had I really been thinking about my own gain, there were several junctures where I had a good jumping off point. Coca-Cola offered me north of $3 million in 2008 to buy the property. And I didn’t even negotiate with them. I probably would have sold it for just south of $4 million had I had any interest it. And here I am hoping that I either refinance it or sell it in the fall for $3.1 million. I’m hoping that it gets to that level, when I’ve had the opportunity to have that burden handed off. There’s been other junctures where if I really was that guy that was going to leave town with a bunch of money, I would have done it.
“My attorney tells me that I’m making decisions with my heart and not my head. …. I’ve said many times before, smarter business people would have run away from this thing a long time ago. I’ve fallen in love with it, as has my family.”