SBD/November 29, 2012/Events and Attractions

Motorsports Forum: Track Operators Working To Improve Fan Experience

Powell said tracks must find the real answer to satisfy the fan experience
Track operators know they need to provide fans with better mobile connectivity at their facilities, but they are wrestling with the costs and the complexity of making the facility upgrades to deliver it.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell said, “Ultimately, we’re going to pay for it, and our company is working towards that now.” He acknowledged that connectivity was becoming a necessity for fans. Bristol Motor Speedway Exec VP & GM Jerry Caldwell added, “The biggest challenge is finding what the real answer is before you spend money on something that’s not the real solution and waste millions and millions of dollars.”

Pocono Raceway President & CEO Brandon Igdalsky agreed that paying for it is not simple. He said that tracks not only have to find someone to provide the service, but they have to work with telecommunications companies to deliver the wiring to the track. The plan at Pocono, a 2.5-mile track, is to improve connectivity in sections. He said, “Every little piece is going to help. You can’t get to the end goal if you don’t do all the little things that add up.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Senior VP, Chief Strategy Officer & CMO Mike Redlick said the track is finalizing a partnership with a distributed antenna system that will boost cell service during races. He said, “It’s not going to be any expense to us. It’s going to be a carrier-neutral solution.”

But that is not the only issue tracks are facing. They still hear complaints from fans about the traffic leaving races, and they also are trying to upgrade certain areas of their facilities and improve hospitality.

Caldwell said that Las Vegas Motor Speedway also has plans to convert some existing seats in its lower bowl into corporate hospitality areas where companies can host smaller groups of clients than they would in a suite. Caldwell: “We’ve had success with a lot of the individual premium options. The haves … are willing to spend the money, but they want to change it up and not do the same thing year after year.”
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