The Daytona International Speedway and the International Speedway Corporation have announced that the latter entity has approved a major redevelopment project for the famed track that will cost up to $400 million. The intent of the project is to enhance the overall experience for the fans, marketing partners and the motorsports industry, according to ISC. The initiative will commence after the checkered flag drops on July’s Coke Zero 400 and is anticipated for completion by January 2016, just prior to the Rolex24 endurance race.

“We are truly creating history with this unprecedented endeavor, said ISC’s chief operating officer Lesa France Kennedy. “The decision was made with strong consideration of the current macroeconomic condition and a clear view for our long-term growth.”

Artist renderings of the proposed vision of Daytona redesign
Artist renderings of the proposed vision of Daytona redesign

Photo by: NASCAR Public Relations

While not as ambitious as proposed earlier, the renovation project is still regarded as substantive and the final product should turn the World Center of Racing into a new and improved show palace. The earlier plan included a public/private partnership with the state of Florida, an initiative that was not approved by the state legislature. However, DIS officials continue to be hopeful that the state may have a change of heart at some point.

Said DIS president Joie Chitwood, “I am proud to say that we have been able to retain all the amenities that we wanted to have in the grandstand structure in terms of the entrances, the seat comfort, restrooms and all those elements.” He went on to say that both DIS and ISC will continue to work with “our friends in Tallahassee. I do believe we have a great story to tell and I do believe we should be treated more fairly like the other sports properties in terms of sales tax rebates.” He said he would go to Tallahassee frequently to remind state leaders how special Daytona is, and that ISC is making a huge investment not only to the Daytona area and Volusia County but to the state of Florida as well.

‘The renovations will include five redesigned fan entrances on the front stretch with each entrance leading to a series of escalators and elevators to transport fans to three different concourse levels. Each level will have one or more neighborhoods, each measure the size of a football field, enable fans to meet and socialize during events without missing the on-track action.

Every seat on the front stretch will be replaced with wider and more comfortable seating with more restrooms and concessions stands. When completed, 101,000 permanent seats will be available with the potential for an increase to 125,000.

No seating changes will be made for Speedweeks 2014, but when the project is completed, changes will be noticeable and by 2016 the Superstretch (backstretch) stands will have been removed.

Regarding the Superstretch changes, Chitwood said the fan experience would be enhanced with the focus on the front stretch. “We cannot provide the same experience back there that we can provide on the front stretch,” he noted. “No matter whether you sit in the front row, the middle or the top row, we want the fans to have access to all the amenities, and we can do that on the front stretch. On the back stretch, you feel disconnected from the venue, and we listened to the fans back there.”

Artist renderings of the proposed vision of Daytona redesign
Artist renderings of the proposed vision of Daytona redesign

Photo by: NASCAR Public Relations

Omitted from the revised plans are changes to the midway. “The major overhaul of the midway area was taken out,” Chitwood said. “The midway area is all the ground between the gates and International Speedway Boulevard.”

Even though a major investment is being made and seating capacity will be reduced, Chitwood indicated ticket prices will continue to be affordable, coolers will be allowed and free parking will be available. “We are not going to turn around and leverage ticket prices; we know our fans need good entry-level pricing,” he said.

Change is always a healthy element and even though there may be dust and minor inconveniences while the project is being undertaken, the end result looks to be a positive one.