Mayor’s Office, Bristol Motor Speedway Reach Agreement For Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway

Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway renderings

The reality of NASCAR returning to the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway way is closer to becoming a reality as both Mayor John Cooper and Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) have agreed to a lease.

This proposal was presented to the Metro Fair Board on Tuesday (Nov. 8) by the Mayor’s office, BMS President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell.

“Partnering with Bristol allows Nashville to preserve our 131-year tradition of racing at the Fairgrounds and bring the legendary speedway back to life as a valuable and exciting part of the modernized Fairgrounds,” Cooper explains. “Recognizing our obligation to maintain the track, we are leveraging investments from the state, the tourism industry, and facility users to make this a financial success for the city. We can put this landmark back on the national stage. I look forward to working with the Fair Board, Sports Authority and the Metro Council in the months ahead.”

With this deal, BMS will “renovate, operate, and maintain the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Metro Fair Board pursuant to a development agreement and a 30 year lease agreement.”

The agreement will need to be passed by the Board of Fair Commissioners, Metropolitan Council and Sports Authority. A vote by the Fair Board is expected to take place in January 2023.

If the proper bodies approve this agreement, bringing NASCAR back to the Fairgrounds, Bristol will host a Cup Series race at least every other year throughout the lease agreement and has agreed to “make up any deficits in pledged revenues in order to ensure the bond payments are met in the event a race is not held as anticipated.”

Nashville SC, the Fair Board and Bristol have also negotiated a scheduling process that will ensure all parties can schedule events as required by Metro Charter and the Nashville SC lease.

“It’s been a long multi-year process through selections and negotiations and we are eager to see this project through its completion,” adds Caldwell. “There is a lot of work ahead of us as we meet with city officials and work with the community to complete a truly comprehensive restoration of the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway for the enjoyment of future generations. We encourage race fans to continue to show their support for this special piece of motorsports history. We are thankful to all who have supported this venture throughout this process.”

According the agreement, the revenue sources to renovate the speedway will be a $17,000,000 grant from the State of Tennessee, a $17,000,000 payment from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation (NCVC) for the use of the Speedway and tourism promotion activities, as well as Revenue Bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority.

Revenue Bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority will be backed by:

  • $1,000,000 annual rent payments from Bristol (with a 1% escalator)
  • $650,000 annual CVC rent payments
  • Ticket tax revenues
  • Redirect of the state and local sales taxes generated at the Speedway, similar to other Metro Sports facilities (Geodis Park, First Horizon Ballpark, Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium)
  • Guaranteed annual payment by Bristol of $103,125, plus additional rent of up to $103,125 annually (with a 2% escalator) to be paid out of anticipated excess project revenues
  • A share of gross revenues and food & beverage revenues
  • Facility sponsorship payment up to $600,000 per year (with a 1% escalator)
  • 10% of facility naming rights net revenue

The deal between the city and Bristol is similar to the deal the Mayor’s office and the Titans agreed on last month for a new stadium and lease.

Bristol Motor Speedway will be responsible to all renovations as well as any updates needed within the 30-year lease.

Steven Boero