SBD/Issue 138/Events & Attractions

NASCAR Execs, Drivers Want Year-End Banquet Moved To Las Vegas

NASCAR Drivers, Execs Feel Move To Vegas
Would Create Opportunity To Include Fans
After 27 years in N.Y., NASCAR's season-ending celebration "probably is moving to Las Vegas, beginning this year," according to Terry Blount of ESPN.com. SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith said of the possible move, "I'm glad to see NASCAR make a good decision. I think all of us are going to be overwhelmed with what Las Vegas can bring." Driver Jeff Burton said, "Our banquet needs some life injected into it. We need something new and exciting. I think Vegas is a way for us to do that. We need more fan involvement and we need a fresh look with new ideas." Blount wrote moving the event to Las Vegas "will give fans a chance to participate." Smith said that he "prefers having the banquet at Mandalay Bay or the MGM Grand, hotels that can seat 16,000 people for an awards ceremony." Smith: "Maybe we could sell 10,000 tickets to fans to let them come and enjoy the festivities." NASCAR VP/Communications Jim Hunter said that "having more fan involvement is important to NASCAR." Hunter: "That's definitely one of the things that would be very attractive about Las Vegas. We have such loyal fans. [It] would give us the opportunity to have several fan elements around the event." All that is "left to complete the deal is the length of the agreement." Las Vegas tourism officials "want a three-year contract, but NASCAR may opt for a one-year deal with an option, just to make sure things go well." Blount noted the banquet "takes place the first week of December, the same week of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas" (ESPN.com, 4/3).

RIGHT CHOICE?: In Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann wrote, "I'm a big fan of Las Vegas. ... I just don't see it as the place to put on an event that's supposed to exude elegance and class. It's a place to go if you're going to do something that you'd be ashamed of somewhere else. It screams bachelor party, not black-tie banquet." More Kallmann: "Perhaps NASCAR will change the format to somehow include fans. That would be OK" (JSONLINE.com, 4/3). In Charlotte, David Poole wrote of the event moving to Las Vegas, "I don't think that's a bad idea, but I don't think simply moving it will change much or fix anything. It's not so much about where as it is what. What's important is the ceremony is moved to a larger venue where fans can be part of the show. If it's easier to make that happen in Las Vegas, then moving it is the right thing to do" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/5).

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