Bristol Motor Speedway and Nashville Mayor John Cooper have agreed to a proposal to revitalize Nashville Fairgrounds and bring NASCAR back to the racetrack.
The deal was announced Tuesday as NASCAR gets ready to celebrate its awards banquet this week with a series of activities around Nashville. Among details in the proposal is that the Metro Charter requires racing be held at the Fairgrounds, so Metro Government has an obligation to maintain the facility. Partnering with Bristol will help meet that obligation.
However, the proposal still needs to be presented and approved by the Board of Fair Commissioners. An independent sports finance consultant is currently reviewing the financial framework of the proposed plan.
“This partnership creates an economically viable future for our historic track, spurs hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, and completes the last unrenovated part of the Nashville Fairgrounds at no cost to the Metro General Fund,” said Cooper.
A state-of-the-art Major League Soccer stadium and new expo facilities are in the process of being built next to the racetrack.
“In keeping with the national profile that Nashville Soccer Club is bringing to the Fairgrounds in 2022, this innovative partnership will bring our historic speedway back to life as a crown jewel in the world of motor sports,” said Mayor Cooper. “No other city has professional soccer and NASCAR side by side. Our Fairgrounds will be a unique asset for Nashville’s future. I look forward to working with Bristol, the State of Tennessee, the Fair Board, the Sports Authority and the Council on this proposal.”
Key terms in the proposal include:
- Bristol 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
- Revenue streams to pay for the speedway renovations 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 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.
Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway opened in 1904. It last hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race in 1984.
“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.”