SBD/June 18, 2013/Facilities

Rising Tide: Daytona Int'l Speedway Gets Go-Ahead For Major Track Renovation

Daytona Int’l Speedway has been given the green light for a major facelift. The ISC BOD on Friday approved a $375-400M renovation of the track, and ISC officially announced the project this morning with the tagline “Daytona Rising, Reimagining an American Icon.” Construction starts July 8. Completion is targeted for Jan. 1, 2016, and the facility will remain open during the two-and-a-half year project, DIS officials said. The upgrades will greatly expand the track’s grandstand along the front stretch with longer, wider concourses, more concessions and dozens of escalators. ISC will fund the overhaul with cash from its ongoing operations. The track sought close to $75M in tax breaks from the state of Florida, but legislators rejected the request last month. As a result, ISC committed to financing the entire project and modified the scope of the renovation. Officials eliminated the midway piece, a long stretch with green space leading to the track’s entrances designed for year-round activities outside the facility. The midway will be part of future improvements, said DIS President Joie Chitwood III. Track officials will continue to pursue public financing from the state of Florida, he said. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for July 5. The track released interior images of the facility in February that showed plans for reducing the number of entrances at DIS from 17 to five. The renovated track will divide the existing, single grandstand into three concourse levels, which will reduce the number of stairs fans have to descend to reach concessions. The new concourses will include 11 “neighborhoods,” each the size of a football field, to serve as fan destinations outside the seating bowl. There also will be new suites and premium seating options. Sports architect Rossetti is designing the renovation. Construction firm Barton Malow, currently working on the $195M Rose Bowl renovation, is the general contractor (Mickle & Muret, Staff Writers).

SEATING TO BE REDUCED: In Daytona Beach, Eileen Zaffiro-Kean reports DIS after the renovations “will have about 101,000 permanent seats with the potential to increase permanent seating to 125,000.” That will be down from the 146,000 seats currently at the track. However, DIS officials said that there will be “no capacity changes” for next year’s Daytona 500. The decrease in capacity “could occur in stages” after next year’s 500 and will “include the complete removal of the backstretch grandstand by the start of the 2016 motorsports season.” The renovations “will impact some ancillary events" at the Speedway through '14, but “major races will be held as scheduled.” DIS officials indicated that they will have “additional information on events beyond 2014 after they complete their full construction schedule” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/18).
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