Charlotte Discusses Removing Grandstand

Charlotte Motor Speedway

(from Sports Business Journal, November 25- December 1)  Improvement of the race-day experience is the goal for the Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), and the owners have discussed tearing down the backstretch grandstand. This move would eliminate around 40,000 seats.

CMS President Marcus Smith has talked about how the move will improve the experience of the fans by allowing them to view the facility’s video board and pit road. Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns the track, and the decision would need the approval of the chairman and largest shareholder, Bruton Smith.

The vice president of communications at Charlotte Motor Speedway states, “We don’t have any information to share at this time regarding potential capital improvements.” Over the past month sources say the track has told its sales team not to sell tickets for the Diamond Tower Terrace, and track officials have proposed the idea of putting a concrete slab for motor homes where the Diamond Tower Terrace is. The 600Terrace always sells out. Adding this new slab of concrete would help bring in more revenue and bring in more fans with motor homes to the races.

President of ISC, John Saunders, said the company will be reducing capacity at other tracks in the future in hopes that limiting ticket supply will increase demand. The combined ticket revenue at ISC and SMI, which are where the majority of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup races are held, has decreased by $175 million, about 41%, since 2007. “To get out of this quagmire, we’ve got to get our capacity down,” Saunders said.

The Diamond Tower Terrace seats often go unsold because of the lack of view of the video board and pit road, so the decision to replace the seats with a slab for the motor homes would be the best way to control the capacity. “Humpy” Wheeler, Former President and General Manager, said, “Eliminating the “second-turn seats” would help the facility get back to the days when the facility sold out 24 consecutive May races.”

Wheeler fought to not build the Diamond Tower Terrace when he was there but was out voted. “It was a bold move,” Wheeler said. “But I remember what [former NASCAR Chairman] Bill France Jr. once said — don’t ever add more than 5,000 seats at a time, and if you sell out two straight years, then add another 5,000.”