Mayor’s Office Outlines Plan For Fairgrounds Speedway For Metro Sports Authority

Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway renderings

The Nashville Metropolitan Mayor’s office presented the Metro Sports Authority with their outline to renovate and run the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in partnership with Bristol Motor Speedway.

Plans for the speedway include a full renovation of the track, as well as the construction of a 30,000-seat grandstand, bringing NASCAR back to the city of Nashville while also sifting the financial burden off of taxpayers.

Benjamin Eagles from the mayor’s office presented this plan to the Sports Authority on Thursday (Jan. 19), speaking of its history, impact and what the city will do next if the plan is approved. Under this new 30-year lease agreement with Bristol, the east Tennessee speedway will renovate and run the historic Davidson County speedway.

The renovations in the plan include:

  • Addition of new event facilities that enable year-round multipurpose use
  • Renovation of the racing surface, including modernizing driver and spectator safety features
  • Installation of state-of-the-art sound absorption features to reduce auto racing sounds by 50 percent over current conditions
  • Updating the entire facility to bring into ADA compliance

If the plan is approved, Bristol will keep the current 10-weekend race schedule while adding non-racing programming, such as corporate events, festivals and more. The plan includes bringing a NASCAR race back to the speedway once every other year.

The Speedway has already received a $17 million grant from the state of Tennessee, as well as a $17 million contribution from the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. (NCVC). The plan has a design budget of $6 million in which Bristol Motor Speedway will pay two thirds and NCVC will pay one third.

The Sports Authority’s bonds will be backed by $1 million in rent from Bristol (with a 1% escalator), $650,000 use payments from NCVC for 20 days per year for non-racing events and guaranteed annual payment by Bristol to the Fair Board of $103,125 plus additional rent to the Fair Board of up to $103,125 annually (with a 2% escalator) to be paid using anticipated excess project revenues.

The Authority will also see money from sponsorships ($600,000) and 10% of naming rights, taxes from patrons and ticket sales, as well as event revenue sharing from events outside of four specific ones. The Sports Authority will see 5% share of gross revenues and 15% share of food & beverage sales from that.

An independent financial review was done by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) project’s proposed funding model, which is available to the Fair Board to view. The CSL report vetted financial projections and identified shortcomings.

The next step is for the Fair Board to review this proposal and vote on it. If it is passed, it will be sent back to the Sports Authority before heading to Metro Council. The Fair Board is expected to vote on the Mayor’s office plan for the speedway this month.

Steven Boero