SBD/27/Leagues Governing Bodies

GEARS AND ROAMING IN LAS VEGAS: NASCAR HITS THE STRIP

          NASCAR's Las Vegas debut for the Las Vegas 400 on
     Sunday is the subject of USA TODAY's sports cover story by
     Steve Ballard.  The Winston Cup race, held Sunday and
     televised by ABC, will run at the $200M Las Vegas
     Motorspeedway, which has a 2.5-mile road course, drag strip,
     dirt oval, research and development facilities and racing
     schools.  The facility has 107,000 seats, which sold out in
     one day for the event at prices of $50 to $110.  The Las
     Vegas Convention & Visitors Auth. also paid over $1M for
     title sponsorship of this weekend's race.  NASCAR Dir of
     Communications John Griffin: "We're in the entertainment
     capital of the world and being embraced with arms wide open"
     (USA TODAY, 2/27).  The Speedway has 102 suites that lease
     for $60,000 annually (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/27).  
          SPLIT LEAGUES? In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski wrote on the
     state of NASCAR and added that the "best way" to grow the
     sport "is to split into east and west divisions with
     separate drivers, teams, speedways and schedules."  By
     forming two leagues, NASCAR "could move into new markets and
     provide their new tracks with the races they covet.  At the
     same time, it would enable the smaller tracks in the
     Southeast to keep their dates and preclude them from turning
     into flea markets" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 2/26).
          RAW NUMBERS: AUTOWEEK notes that attendance at NASCAR
     Winston Cup races has "nearly tripled" since '87.  In '87,
     the series drew 2,213,000 fans; in '97 it drew 6,091,356, an
     increase of 175.2% (AUTOWEEK, 3/2 issue).

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