Speedway Motorsports makes public $60M pitch to bring NASCAR to Fairgrounds – The Tennessean


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Speedway Motorsports has struck a deal that paves the way for NASCAR’s return Nashville and for weekly racing to remain at the venerable short track.
Michael Schwab, Nashville Tennessean

Speedway Motorsports went public Tuesday on a potential $60 million renovation project at the Nashville Fairground to bring NASCAR back to the historic racetrack.

The group has been courting Mayor David Briley’s administration for months to clear a way for Nashville to hold a NASCAR race on the fairground campus, which is also the home of the new Major League Soccer stadium. Talks have gone on behind closed doors, keeping the public and the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners in the dark.

After a terse request last month from commissioners for Speedway Motorsports to “bring a real proposal to the table,” the group made its first public pitch Tuesday, showing initial insight on renovation ideas.

“We’re not here to sell you guys on racing in Nashville. We just believe we can help take the racing to the next level,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president of Bristol Motor Speedway.

“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.”

A rendering shows what a revamped racetrack at the Nashville fairgrounds could look like if NASCAR comes back to the city. (Photo: Submitted)

Caldwell’s presentation featured ideas for a 30,000 seat-capacity structure, an expanded concourse, premium seating, pedestrian tunnels and sound barriers at an overhauled racetrack.

But the feasibility of a major upgrade has been questioned. The potential roadblocks include how the project will be financed and concerns about the placement of a mixed-use apartment building and parking lot, 20 feet from the racetrack entrance.

Now, the group says it has found a solution to the financing question so only one hurdle remains — what to do about the building in such close proximity to the track.

Caldwell asked the fair board to consider and help facilitate conversations on how to address what they see as a public safety issue that would also make the flow into and out of the racetrack difficult.

A discussion would also include negotiations of a financial structure and input on the needs of the fairground.

“This is your racetrack,” Caldwell said. “This racetrack belongs to the people of Nashville. We see tremendous potential … and are willing to offer our resources and experience in partnership with you.”

The board voted for Fairgrounds Director Laura Womack and board member Jason Bergeron as representatives in the ongoing talks.

Board Chairman Ned Horton called it “exciting potential” after hearing Caldwell’s pitch, thanking him for sharing ideas.  

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