SBJ/Nov. 18-24, 2013/Facilities

Daytona readies new premium seats for sale

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Daytona International Speedway will increase the price of a premium-seat experience for NASCAR events after completing a $400 million renovation in 2016.

Track officials set pricing for two new group suite products, Midway Suites and High Bank Suites, in addition to a multiday club-seat package. They were to begin selling those three hospitality options last weekend during NASCAR’s final race of the season in Homestead, Fla.

The High Bank Suites will offer interior lounges and outdoor patios facing the track with seats below.
Photo by: DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
The Midway Suites, to be built on the mezzanine level, the second floor of the reconstructed grandstand along Daytona’s front stretch, effectively replace the corporate chalets that companies now buy outside the racetrack to entertain guests before races.

As a result of developing permanent hospitality spaces inside the facility, the track will charge $500 a person for the Midway Suites starting with the 2016 race, Daytona President Joie Chitwood said. The speedway previously charged $400 a person for the Daytona 500.

Doing the math, buying a 50-person Midway Suite would cost $25,000, a 25 percent increase over the chalets, which shut down after the race starts. The Midway Suites bring patrons inside the track and stay open for the duration of the race. The price for a Midway Suite covers race tickets and access to an indoor lounge on the back side of the track with no views of the action.

The High Bank Suites, also on the mezzanine level, are being sold as a seasonlong ticket package covering eight days of NASCAR racing. Those suites have interior lounges and outdoor patios facing the track with seats below those decks.

For that product, the average price of $2,448 a person covers tickets to the track’s major NASCAR races: the Budweiser Duels, Sprint Unlimited race, a Camping World Truck Series race, two Nationwide Series races, the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400.

Buying a High Bank Suite for 50 people would cost $122,400.

“This is one of the things our motorsports customer really wants,” Chitwood said. “They want the private side of the suite, where it’s a little bit less noisy, but they want to sit outside in the stadium.”

Food and drink served by Americrown, ISC’s in-house concessionaire, is a separate fee for all the new premium-seating products.

The Four-Day Club will sit on the third level of the front-stretch grandstand.
Photo by: DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
All told, there are about 80 new suites, split about equally between Midway and High Bank units, all designed with movable walls to accommodate 50 to 300 people. The mezzanine level, with total space for 4,900 people, targets firms entertaining contest winners, distributors, vendors and other customers, Chitwood said.

The third premium-seat option is a four-day ticket package in a new club on the third level, one floor above the mezzanine level.

The $695 ticket price a person covers admission to select February races — the Budweiser Duels, Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Daytona 500 races — plus food, drink and parking. New amenities include a private bar and wider seat. The current club seat costs $680 a person.

A two-day ticket option costs $495 and covers Saturday-Sunday admission to the Nationwide Series and Daytona 500 races.

“We’re taking an experience we have and we’re making it better, and we think we’ve been very reasonable on the pricing side,” Chitwood said. “More importantly, the club element gives our customer the option to do [smaller] hospitality.”

The premium-seat upgrades, plus increases in concession and corporate sponsorship sales tied to the renovation, are projected to boost Daytona’s bottom line by more than $15 million annually, according to public filings by International Speedway Corp., the track’s owner.

The new premium spaces meet the changing hospitality needs of sponsors and other companies entertaining guests at NASCAR races.

DuPont, for example, used to host up to 1,000 people but has scaled back its race-day functions to 50 to 100 in recent years, Chitwood said.

“We want to be nimble,” he said. “As we design it, we don’t want to be stuck with something in five years that isn’t fitting the market need. We want to be prepared in case it swings to a new direction. We want to make sure we’re not tied to one form or another.”

Daytona is still forming prices for new, higher-end suites on the upper levels of a tower perched above the middle of the grandstand, he said.

Speedway officials are selling the premium inventory in-house and will debut a virtual showroom for sales at the 2014 Daytona 500.



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