Nashville Mayor agrees to plan to revitalize Fairgrounds Speedway

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced Tuesday that he has agreed to a proposal by Bristol Motor Speedway to revitalize Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway so it can host NASCAR racing.

In a release from the Mayor’s office, it states “the partnership will result in a modernized track that meets NASCAR series standards and transform Fairgrounds Speedway into a true multipurpose venue that can also host non-racing, revenue-generating events.”

The release states that “a slate of NASCAR series and other major races, in addition to an expanded calendar of revenue-producing, non-motorsports events would generate about $100 million annually in economic activity, through visitor spending at hotels, restaurants and other local attractions, according to an analysis by Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics.”

The 0.596-mile track, which dates to 1904, hosted at least one Cup race a year from 1958-84. The Xfinity Series raced there in 1984, ’88, 89 and from 1995-2000.

Mayor Cooper said the target date for a NASCAR race at the track is 2024, according to The Tennessean.

As for the next steps:

  • An independent sports finance consultant is reviewing the financial framework of the proposed plan.
  • If the consultant approves the plan, it will be presented to the Board of Fair Commissioners for approval once the two open Fair Board seats have been filled.
  • If the deal is approved by the Fair Board, the proposal will be submitted to the Sports Authority and the Metropolitan Council.

“In keeping with the national profile that Nashville Soccer Club is bringing to the Fairgrounds in 2022, this innovative partnership will bring our historic speedway back to life as a crown jewel in the world of motor sports,” Mayor John Cooper said in a statement. “Having professional soccer and NASCAR side by side will make our Fairgrounds a family destination for Nashville’s future. I look forward to working with Bristol, the State of Tennessee, the Fair Board, the Sports Authority and the Council on this proposal.”

Key terms of the proposal:

  • Bristol Motor Speedway would lease, manage and operate Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway for a 30-year term.
  • The Metro Sports Authority will issue 30-year revenue bonds to finance the track’s renovation.
  • State-of-the-art sound mitigation components will be installed by Bristol Motor Speedway.
  • Track rentals will be reduced to 20 days a year.
  • Revenue streams to pay for the track’s renovation include rent payments, user fees and taxes paid by patrons of the venue, sponsorship agreements and event revenue.
  • The track’s grandstand will be rebuilt to seat approximately 30,000 fans.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the mayor, government officials and Nashville community to breathe new life in the legendary Fairgrounds Speedway,” Smith said in a statement. “In addition to bringing major NASCAR series races back to the historic facility, we’ll create a calendar for local racing and special events that generates a positive economic impact for the region.”

Jerry Caldwell, BMS executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement: “Once the renovations are complete, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will be a new destination for motorsports and entertainment. We’ll operate to maximize event opportunities while mitigating the impact on area residents. Our goal is to create something that Nashville and the surrounding community can be proud of.”

NASCAR returned to the Nashville market this past season. The Cup Series raced for the first time at Nashville Superspeedway. The track is located in Lebanon, Tennessee, about 35 miles from Nashville.

Nashville Superspeedway will host the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (June 24), Xfinity Series (June 25) and Cup Series (June 26) in 2022. The Cup race will air on NBC and mark the beginning of the NBC/USA portion of the Cup schedule.

This past season marked the first year in a four-year sanctioning agreement Nashville Superspeedway has with NASCAR. Speedway Motorsports announced Nov. 8 it would acquire Dover Motorsports, which operates Nashville Superspeedway and Dover International Speedway.