In response to questions from Tire Business, a Bridgestone Americas spokesperson issued the following statement: “Akron is important to Bridgestone Americas, and it has played a critical role in our company's history for more than 100 years.
“Bridgestone was not aware of the breadth of the City of Akron's proposed redevelopment plan and related Request for Qualifications. We are currently reviewing and evaluating the city's position.
“In the meantime, we are focused on having another great season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, celebrating the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, and are committed to making our world-class race tires in Akron through at least 2018.”
Bridgestone moved its research and development center in 2012 to a purpose-built facility a mile south of the century-plus-old brick and concrete multi-story former headquarters structure.
The race tire production unit stayed in place at the former tire plant and headquarters; it occupies about 100,000 of the structure's 750,000 square feet, Akron said. Its sole output is tires for the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The city is seeking — through a two-step qualifications and proposal process — to designate a “development entity” or entities with “exceptional experience” and capability to transform the Firestone Development Property.
The entity selected would be responsible for relocating the existing Bridgestone race tire manufacturing center and either reutilize the existing structure or demolish it.