Pushing Summernats out of EPIC would be a 'shame', co-owner says
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Pushing Summernats out of EPIC would be a 'shame', co-owner says

Summernats says it's keen to be involved in discussions around the future of Exhibition Park in Canberra, as consultants begin to investigate the area ahead of a prospective redevelopment.

Exhibition Park, or EPIC, has been the home of the annual car festival since it began in 1988, with founder Chic Henry building the event around the venue.

Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez.

Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez.Credit:Lawrence Atkin

More than 100,000 motoring enthusiasts made the pilgrammage to EPIC for the four-day event last month.

But with the ACT government considering the future of the showground with "urban renewal planning feasibility" studies on it and a slab of land to the north, Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez said he wanted to be a part of talks

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“Summernats has only had informal discussions with ACT government about potential changes to Exhibition Park, and The Canberra Times article contains the most detail we’ve seen around what planning might be in store," Mr Lopez said.

"We’d love to contribute to a long-term plan either for EPIC or an alternative venue in the ACT that facilitates festival growth."

Thousands line the edges of the track at Exhibition Park in December 1993.

Thousands line the edges of the track at Exhibition Park in December 1993. Credit:Canberra Times

The showground also hosts the National Folk Festival and Royal Canberra Show, and will be home to Groovin The Moo for the first time in April.

Mr Lopez said an expansion of the EPIC precinct "would certainly be welcome", especially if the capital works benefitted both current and potential festival tenants.

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"We’re obviously keen that any planning allows Summernats and other fun festivals like Groovin the Moo to grow and not place further restrictions on us," Mr Lopez said.

"Obviously Summernats and festival tourism brings a lot of money to the economy, so I’m sure the government wants to keep the Nats and others like us in the territory.

"It would be a shame if redevelopment plans meant Summernats and other more lively festivals had to explore other options.”

The government maintains these are preliminary investigations and no decisions had been made on the redevelopment of the area.

However the area was included in a gateway plan circulated early last year that involved densification along the stage one light rail route.

A redevelopment of EPIC also formed part of the part of the leaked business case for light rail stage one, which spoke of a suburban business park, with "large campus-style uses", university and technology facilities, "hotel or serviced accommodation, private hospitals, place of worship (for example, Hillsong) and indoor recreational facilities".

However a final decision on the fate of EPIC is understood to be a long time away.

And while there have been rumours of an alternate site near the airport for years, government sources say this is not the case.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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