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Judge Hears Arguments in N.H. Motor Speedway Music Festival Suit

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Owners of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway told a Superior Court judge on Monday that a 1989 agreement prohibiting them from holding music concerts doesn’t apply to land acquired since that contract was signed.

The Loudon track owners want to stage a multi-day country music festival this summer, but a group of neighbors who signed the 1989 agreement say that such events are prohibited regardless of where on the track’s property the event is held.

“The contract is clear, and we believe we are in our legal standings to hold this concert on property that we’ve acquired long after that agreement was signed,” said David McGrath, general manager of the Motor Speedway.

Lawyers for the Speedway argued that nothing in the language of the agreement states that its terms would extend to property acquired after its signing.

The document does contain a clause that no music events can be held unless they are “in conjunction” with an actual race.

Three signatories from the 1989 agreement--Canterbury residents Arnie Alpert, Judith Elliot, and James Snyder--contend that a concert would violate the intention of the contract.

“One concert leads to another concert that leads to another concert that leads to another concert, and that’s not what they bargained for, and that’s not what was agreed to, and they object,” says attorney Steve Gordon, who is representing the petitioners.

Both the Loudon Planning Board and the Loudon Board of Selectmen have already approved the concert, which would draw an estimated 20,000 country music lovers. The Speedway says it doesn’t yet know which weekend the event would be staged.

Last year, the Speedway’s parent company relocated one of the track’s NASCAR races to its Nevada property, leaving a sizeable gap in the Loudon facility’s calendar.

After more than an hour of arguments, Judge Robert McNamara took the matter under advisement.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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