Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Smith Wants State Aid To Help Rebuild Bristol

Bruton Smith confirmed last week that he will reconfigure Bristol Motor Speedway, addressing fan complaints about lackluster racing in recent events.

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.



  1. Brandon in TN11:55 AM

    As a resident of the state of TN I will be upset if our state government helps with this project. Bruton spent his money to change the track the first time. If he wants to change it back , I say he can use his own money to do so. This is just another one of Bruton's many tactics to get his way.

  2. Ya gotta love it... another millionaire looking for a handout.

  3. Anonymous12:06 PM

    That's BS!!! U don't see the state taking part of the profits that the track makes.

  4. Anonymous12:23 PM

    85 years old, worth over a BILLION dollars, and he wants the State of Tennessee to help foot the bill since he thinks he screwed up improving the track because a whole bunch of crash n' bangers want to see more wrecks there instead of racing?

    The craziness never ends. Why not get the hotelier's in the area to reduce their prices or reduce the ticket price even further to fill up the track. He ain't living forever and he ain't takin' it with him.

    Doug from NJ

  5. Anonymous12:31 PM

    I would hope the state of Tenn. Has the forethought to say thank you NO. SMI made the decision to change the track, now they can pay to change it back.

  6. That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. How about addressing the price gouging of the fans by the local hotels and businesses?

  7. Carol from South Jersey1:45 PM

    Empty seats, means empty pockets. Bruton's that is.

    Not the answer.

  8. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Wow, I am a big fan of Bristol and I am beyond surprised that they think that the State should spend money to help this. I personally think that Bruton Smith hasn't worked with Goodyear on tire compounds along with looking this over patiently before he made this call. Find a better answer to this before you spend that type of money irresponsibly.

  9. Anonymous4:31 PM

    I am againest any goverment money going to sports. I live in and work for Miami-Dade county. Between them am city of miami they put up 80 million for the Marlins field then could not balance there budget. It cost 2000 county and city employees there jobs and the rest of us took a 30% pay cut . I was going to 4 races a year. Now last year and this I havent been to one. All the other teams in Miami built there own complexes. and 250,000 2 times a year the state pays more then that out a day.

  10. Anonymous4:45 PM

    I disagree with the changing the track and the state giving money .It still not going to fill the seats.People just can't afford to go tothe tracks. It's hard enough for a lot of people to pay there bills.

  11. Anonymous7:06 PM

    I still say the economy is the reason Bristol did not sell out. 100k attendence is a comparable crowd to the Rose Bowl & about a ½ dozen are so of the largest football stadiums. This perpetuates the stereotype that Nascar fans are a bunch of beer swilling rednecks that only go to the races to see wrecks.

  12. I for one miss the old Bristol.But he has no problem buying tracks to take thier dates & causing working people to lose thier jobs and tax payers should pay for his improvments? People cant afford the events yes you can get a cheap ticket but hotel food gas etc

  13. Anonymous8:01 PM

    They need to stop the PRICE GOUGING at the hotels. $1000 per night with a 3-night minimum at a SUPER 8?????? The racing is fine with the new configuration... better IMO. But it's the gouging of the fans by all the local businesses that's making me sell my August tickets. To hell with that.

  14. Anonymous8:15 PM

    It's not the reconfiguration done in 2007 because the racing has never been better. Economy is way down and I personally know of 4 companies that didn't host customers at the March race. This because their companies couldn't afford to send them, but will in March. The weather over the past 3 March races has been lousy at best. Bruton should wait for the new car next year and work with Goodyear to soften the tire. That should make for more excitement. State of Tennessee should say no and I'm a former resident.

  15. Robert G9:30 PM

    I find it hard to believe that the state of Tennessee would make nearly $10/fan in attendance. That is the problem with support of sports teams (in all sports). People through around these high numbers but no one can ever prove it. A lot of times it turns out to be extended dollars (this person gets hired and then they spend money, etc, etc).

  16. While I can understand from a business perspective the effort to obtain as much public assistance as possible, it would certainly seem from a marketing standpoint that addressing the issue of the price gouging by the local hotels (and perhaps other merchants?) should be front and center as well. Just a thought.

  17. Anonymous7:44 AM

    If Bruton wants to draw a comparison to other cities paying millions to subsidize their own sports franchises, he should mention that even when counting all Truck, Nationwide and Cup events, his "team" only plays four home games a year.

  18. Kevin in Maryland7:49 AM

    This looks like typical Bruton.With Kentucky Smith knew damn good and well of the traffic and parking problems. He went ahead with the opening of the track and as soon as the problems started he blamed the state for the poor roads. Now if he doesn't get money from the state of Tenn. he will blame them for not being able to "fix" Bristol. Bruton likes to get everyone fired up about things than blames others for not being able to do what he wants. He is just playing a PR game with the fans in the middle of it all.

  19. Anonymous9:25 AM

    So what this boils down to is a private business made a business decision.
    When the decision seemed not to work the private business wants the goverment help fix it.

    And if the goverment spends money to help fix and it does not work then what?
    Is BS going to refund the goverment if the seats do not sell?
    We remember the answer the last time someone asked BS about refunding money: "I don't want to."

    Robert Y

  20. Anonymous2:10 PM

    The sad thing is the way Smith plays ball if TN doesn't help we may have no Bristol at all. That was his threat with Charlotte. "Let me build a drag strip or I'll move the track." He also has no problem with the closing of history rich race tracks ie North Wilkesburo and then newly re surging Rockingham. In my opinion the guy is a crooked business man who cares little about auto racing other then the dollars it puts in his pockets.

  21. Anonymous10:29 PM

    What city, in their right mind, would help pay for a "stadium" that only hosts two home games a year?