SBJ/June 10-16, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Daytona stays the course on grand overhaul

Getting marquee sponsorship space at a remodeled Daytona International Speedway won’t be cheap.

The track and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., are asking brands to make 10- to 15-year commitments and spend $2 million to $3 million a year for title sponsorship to one of the four entrances. There’s also a grand entrance that is priced higher. They have pitched the offering to existing partners, including Anheuser-Busch, Sprint, Lucas Oil, Toyota, Ford and General Motors.

ISC is asking $2M to $3M a year for the new entrances, and more for the grand entrance.
Image by: ROSSETTI
The sales effort is continuing despite the announcement last month that Daytona officials planned to reassess the size and scope of the track’s renovation. That announcement followed the Florida Legislature’s rejection of a request from the track for a series of tax incentives that would have delivered a one-time payment of $75 million.

Track officials have been vague about how that decision could affect renovation plans, but the goal still is to convert the simple, 50-year-old facility into an NFL-style stadium with grand entrances, wide concourses and improved amenities.

The Daytona and ISC sales team hoped to sign its first, entrance-gate sponsor prior to the Coke Zero 400, the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Daytona hosts every July, but so far it has only signed nondisclosure agreements with several partners that are interested in learning more about the offering.

“We are in discussions with several blue-chip partners about our proposed redevelopment project, including some that are new to the sport,” said Terry Kalna, ISC managing director of marketing partnerships, who is overseeing the in-house sales effort and provided a statement. “The value goes way beyond a typical ‘new stadium.’ We’re focused on creating new opportunities for fan engagement never before seen in our industry, in addition to some unique and high-quality customer touch points. Our goal is to build select partnerships early, allowing them to capitalize on customization and advance publicity.”

The $2 million to $3 million price tag per gate is comparable to the $3.5 million a year that Lowe’s paid to be the naming-rights sponsor of Charlotte Motor Speedway between 1999 and 2009. It’s less than the $8 million a year that MetLife Stadium netted from its four cornerstone partners.

But Daytona represents a different offering for entrance sponsorships than an NFL stadium, which hosts a minimum of 10 football games plus concerts and other events. The speedway hosts more than 200 events a year, including the Daytona 500, a summer Sprint Cup race, the Rolex 24 and AMA Supercross.

The track has talked about bringing in other events after the renovation, such as concerts and a college football game, but brands will have to evaluate whether those events collectively deliver enough value to justify the $2 million-plus asking price for the entrances.

“The idea of a long-term partnership makes a lot of sense, and it’s a smart play for the facility and for the brand,” said Jeff Knapple, president of Van Wagner Sports and an expert on naming rights. “I don’t know if the $2 million is an accurate number because it’s unclear what’s bundled in the package. If it’s pure branding and nothing else, which I doubt, then I would want to know how many events and what’s the foot traffic and if there’s going to be TV coverage from the outside. Those are the questions brands are going to have to be asking.”

The grand entrance sales are critical to the business plan for a renovated Daytona. The deals could bring in more than $20 million a year and help underwrite the cost of the renovation, which has been projected to be as much as $500 million.

The most recent design, which was done by Detroit-based architecture firm Rossetti, shows a new grandstand that is divided into four seating levels. The exterior has a more polished look and reduces the number of entrances from the current total of 17 to five. It also calls for the creation of 11 football-sized “neighborhoods” where fans could get concessions, interact and use wireless technology.

New suites are planned for the fifth, sixth and seventh levels of the renovated track, but the track hasn’t revealed its suite and premium-seating plans and doesn’t plan to do so until next month.

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