SBD/April 13, 2011/Facilities

NASCAR HOF Struggles In First Year In Charlotte; Would Atlanta Have Done Better?

NASCAR HOF expected to fall 500,000 short of projected first-year attendance
Attendance for the first year of the NASCAR HOF is "expected to be 250,000 to 300,000, far short of the projected 800,000 visitors," and all told the HOF is "expected to lose more than $1.3 million in its first year," according to a front-page piece by David Perlmutt of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority has said that it "will use its reserves to cover" this year's losses, but if the HOF "loses money in future years, the authority could ask the City Council for money from the hospitality taxes on motel and hotel rooms, as well as on prepared food and beverages." CRVA CEO Tim Newman said that "beyond disappointing attendance numbers," the HOF "has been a success, helping shine a national spotlight on Charlotte." City officials have said that the HOF "helped win the Democratic National Convention for Charlotte in 2012." But Atlanta city officials, who unsuccessfully bid to host the facility, believe the HOF "should have gone to Georgia." Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson said, "My guess is that the number of visitors would've been higher in Atlanta than in Charlotte." However, Newman added that Charlotte was the "appropriate place to build the hall" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/13). Robinson: "In Atlanta they would've been exposing their brand to a wider, more diverse audience." NASCAR HOF Exec Dir Winston Kelley said, "I don't want to get into a he said, she said, but Charlotte can support three NASCAR races a year and Atlanta can't support two; Charlotte is a more NASCAR-friendly town. I would be worried if we had a bad product. But the fact is we have an exceptional product." In Atlanta, Dan Chapman noted the "recession bears part of the blame for the hall's troubles." Newman: "We would have loved to have opened in 2007 rather than 2010 and probably had a much greater financial cushion to be able to weather the storm." Newman also "laments the overly rosy attendance projections" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/10).
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