SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/This Weeks News

NASCAR’s plans for Hall of Fame include news hub

Dateline: Charlotte. That is one of the biggest benefits overlooked amid all the buzz over the city’s recent selection as home of a publicly funded $154.5 million NASCAR Hall of Fame project.

Even as discussions center on tourism and prestige, plans are also in the works for a NASCAR news hub at the hall of fame, with the operation aimed at spiking national coverage of racing story lines Monday through Thursday — the days when teams and drivers aren’t at the track. Housing the news center at the hall of fame consolidates the media push for NASCAR while giving Charlotte a prominent role in nearly every story generated.

“That’s something exciting to have in Charlotte, [to] have the communications coming right out at the hall of fame location with the byline of Charlotte, N.C., not only to the rest of the nation, but to the rest of the world,” Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France said the idea is to generate media content — video packages, press releases, news alerts and interviews with locally based drivers and teams — at the hall of fame and then push it out across the country to broadcast and print media for use in developing their own stories.

“All week long, we’ll have opportunities to showcase our drivers, our teams, our tracks, with Speed Channel, ESPN, whoever it might be, to create some programming, things that come away from the hall of fame,” France said.

NASCAR’s top broadcast executive, Dick Glover, said the idea is to mirror the NFL’s weeklong news model, which places as much emphasis on midweek developments as it does on game previews and recaps.

To do that, he said, requires extensive access. And, with most NASCAR teams based here, the best way to provide that access for far-flung media outlets is to help generate interviews and news that can be edited and shaped by individual broadcasters and publications.

Generating the NASCAR content will likely fall to the sanctioning body’s video-production arm, Charlotte-based NASCAR Images. The production company occupies 30,000 square feet and employs a staff of 110 in the city. Glover said NASCAR Images may move to a proposed 300,000-square-foot office tower adjacent to the hall of fame, if NASCAR chooses to develop that property.

Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte, an affiliated publication.

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