How cool would it be for NASCAR to race again at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway? It could happen!
Earlier this week, Speedway Motorsports Inc. revealed a $60 million dollar renovation plan of the speedway.
In the first public revealing of the plans, SMI said it would increase seating capacity from 15,000 to 30,000, expanded concourse, premium seating, pedestrian tunnels and sound barriers. The financing would be done through revenue bonds and revenue generated through the speedway events. SMI wants to be 50/50 partners with the fairground and can take on just one event per year or take on a role of full operator, according to The Tenneseean newspaper.
From my research, the .596-mile short track hosted at least one Cup race each year from 1958 to 1984. A glance at the schedule for this year showed an ARCA race on May 4 but not much is happening beyond that race and a few events like Ladies Night, Back to School Family Night and Breast Cancer Awareness Night.
There is, however, an issue that has to be worked out before the renovation would be given the green light. There is a building and parking lot 20 feet from the track entrance, which results in what they deem a public safety issue. The fairground campus is also the home of a new Major League Soccer stadium, which has also been an issue.
“We believe we can create a guest experience like nowhere else in the country with soccer and racing co-existing and offer an unparalleled experience,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president of Bristol Motor Speedway.
The downside? Another track will lose a race for Nashville to gain one. The NASCAR schedule is currently planned through 2020 but there will be changes in 2021, according to NASCAR President Steve Phelps.
After the news became public, The Tennessean wrote an article about five tracks that could be replaced. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Kansas Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway were on the list. Indianapolis was on the list because it wasn’t built for stock cars and “doesn’t produce exciting races,” Atlanta because of dropping attendance and a surface that needs an upgrade and Pocono because if the doubleheader Cup race in 2020 isn’t exciting, one of those could be wiped off the schedule. Kansas was on the list because it’s downsizing its capacity and Bristol because, well, not-so-great attendance.
Bristol’s capacity is more than 100,000 and tickets used to be hard to come by, but only an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 showed up last month for the spring race.
I haven’t checked the numbers compared to the fall race, but I will say that the spring race is huge gamble because it has a tendency to get rained out and bumped to Monday, which isn’t ideal for the working person.
It will be interesting to see if this renovation happens and how the schedule changes to accommodate the changes.
In the meantime, you can catch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup All-Star Race tonight (Saturday) at 7 on FS1.