New deal aims to revitalize Nashville Fairgrounds for NASCAR

The city of Nashville has reached a deal to renovate and modernize the Nashville Fairgrounds for NASCAR competition.

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Bristol Motor Speedway have reached a deal to bring the 117-year-old race track back to the NASCAR calendar.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the mayor, government officials and Nashville community to breathe new life in the legendary Fairgrounds Speedway,” said Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports and Bristol Motor Speedway. “In addition to bringing major NASCAR series races back to the historic facility, we’ll create a calendar for local racing and special events that generates a positive economic impact for the region.”

 

The NASCAR Cup Series competed at the legendary track from 1958 to 1984 with the Xfinity and Truck Series both running their final races there in 2000. NASCAR returned to the Nashville market in 2021 with the addition of Nashville Superspeedway to the Cup Series schedule. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said of the deal: “I still remember the first time I came to the Fairgrounds to race. I fell in love with the place after the first lap. Nashville Fairgrounds is a historic and iconic venue, and Bristol Motor Speedway is the very best partner to continue that storied history. I’m looking forward to witnessing the next chapter in the life of this historic landmark.”

Per the proposal, BMS would lease, manage and operate the fairgrounds race track for a 30-year term. They will install state-of-the-art sound mitigation components and rebuild grandstand seating for up to 30,000 race fans. That and other details are listed below:

  • BMS would lease, manage, and operate the city-owned Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway for a 30-year term.
  • The Metro Sports Authority will issue 30-year revenue bonds to finance the speedway renovation.
  • BMS will install state-of-the-art sound mitigation components during track renovation and reduce track practice rentals to 20 days per year – a combination that will reduce sound impacts to surrounding neighborhoods by 50 percent, according to analysis conducted by Wrightson Johnson Haddon & Williams, an international acoustics engineering firm.
  • Revenue streams to pay for the speedway renovation include rent payments, user fees and taxes paid by patrons of the venue, sponsorship agreements, and event revenue.
  • The proposal limits race and practice dates and addresses other quality of life issues that were raised during more than two dozen community meetings conducted by BMS and the Fair Board over the last few months.
  • The proposal is contingent on use of "guaranteed maximum price" construction contracts to eliminate the risk of construction cost overruns.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the mayor, government officials and Nashville community to breathe new life in the legendary Fairgrounds Speedway,” said Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports and BMS. “In addition to bringing major NASCAR series races back to the historic facility, we’ll create a calendar for local racing and special events that generates a positive economic impact for the region.”

However, not everyone is on board with the proposal. Council member Colby Sledge, who represents the fairgrounds district, told the (Nashville) Tennessean: "As far as I'm concerned, nothing has changed. There's no deal here, there's nothing more than a press release."

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