Sunday’s Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum could mark the first of three consecutive years the exhibition race is held there, based on an agreement between NASCAR and the University of Southern California, which manages the Coliseum.
Joe Furin, general manager of the LA Memorial Coliseum, told NBC Sports on Tuesday that NASCAR’s agreement is a three-year deal — with options on the last two years. NASCAR holds the option of if to continue the event at the Coliseum.
NASCAR has 90 days after Sunday’s race to state if it wishes to return next year, Furin said. That would give NASCAR a deadline of May 6 to decide if to hold the Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum in 2023.
“We’ll all sit down as a group and talk about what went well,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, about how the sanctioning body will decide if to return to the Coliseum.
“What we could possibly tweak. If we want to go ahead there for an additional year, or there’s other areas we may want to explore, domestic or even outside of the U.S., as well.”
NASCAR has spent “significantly more” than $1 million to hold Sunday’s event at the Coliseum, O’Donnell said this week.
“We made a big bet on this, but we think it’s the right thing to do for the industry,” he said, stating that more than 70% of ticket buyers for this weekend had not purchased a ticket for a NASCAR race previously.
NASCAR’s costs to hold the event includes building a paved quarter-mile track inside the stadium. NASCAR also has added SAFER barrier and fencing.
O’Donnell and Furin both declined to state how much NASCAR is paying to lease the facility. The University of Southern California, which took over operation of the Coliseum in 2013, is a private school and not obliged to publicly reveal details of its agreement with NASCAR.
Furin told NBC Sports on Tuesday that a crowd of 50,000 – 60,000 is expected for Sunday’s race. The Coliseum seats 78,000, but Furin said 14 rows of lower level seats are not being used for fan safety, putting capacity in the 60,000 range.
The agreement calls for NASCAR to retain broadcast, sponsorship, merchandise and ticket revenue. The Coliseum keeps all food and beverage revenue, Furin said.
The Coliseum has hosted the Olympics twice (and will host it a third time in 2028), the Super Bowl twice and a World Series, among other events. This will be the Coliseum’s first NASCAR race but not its first motorsports event. It has hosted stadium off-road racing.
“The first discussion with NASCAR from a business perspective was, yes, I know we can handle something like that, truckloads of dirt coming in and the football field being flipped over to a racetrack,” Furin said of this weekend’s race. “So business-wise, very confident we could host it.”
“It was probably a little bit more of the fan in me, the little kid in me, where I was like ‘Are you kidding me? 600-horsepower stock cars zipping around the football stadium? That’s unbelievable.”
By hosting NASCAR, it meant that the Coliseum would not be an option to host anything related to the Super Bowl, which is Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.
“We knew by going with NASCAR we would probably forego any opportunity to host a pre-game Super Bowl (event), any of those functions,” Furin said. “The revenue generated is always a factor. We basically weigh it against potential (revenue of other events) vs. days in use and where we go from there.”
After starting working in December for this event, NASCAR must complete its teardown of the track and walls in two weeks. That will allow the Coliseum a week to get the field ready for the home opener for the LA Giltinis rugby team.