Now, Smith wants the state of Tennessee to help pay for it.
|Speedway Motorsports Chairman Bruton Smith|
The Tennessean newspaper reports the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chairman met with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam late last week to discuss how the state might help foot the bill for refurbishing the half-mile concrete oval.
Haslam called the talks, “very, very preliminary,” saying no specific proposals were discussed, and no commitments made. “They’re an important part of the state,” he said, “so I sat down and talked with them today. Bristol is a huge part of our state revenue-wise. They didn’t have any specific proposals for us, nor did we have any for them, but it’s important for us to be in conversation with them about how they can get their attendance back to where they want it to be and where we want it to be, too.”
The 160,000-seat facility drew only 102,000 fans for last month’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “Food City 500;” empty seats Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told The Tennessean amounted to approximately $500,000 in lost state revenue.
After weighing fan feedback, Smith announced last week that changes will be made. He declined to reveal specific plans for reworking the track, saying details would be released within two weeks. The track was reconfigured in 2007, and fans have expressed unhappiness with the loss of Bristol’s historic “bump and run” style of racing.
Smith said he can return the track to its prior configuration for approximately $1 million, and in time for the track’s next NASCAR weekend in August.