SBJ/May 26-June 1, 2014/Facilities

Bristol moves to The Edge for premium area

Bristol Motor Speedway will have a new look for its NASCAR Sprint Cup race in August after a $2.5 million renovation that includes replacing lower-level seats with a party deck and loge boxes.

The project, which has been several years in the making, comes at a time when tracks across the NASCAR circuit are looking to enhance their amenities and diversify the premium experience they offer fans.

The new party deck and loge boxes will be carved into an area in the lower level.
Photo by: ESSYX

“Part of this is driven by how you better use real estate,” said Jerry Caldwell, Bristol Motor Speedway’s general manager. “How do you take something that was underutilized and use it in a better fashion? We feel like these changes will do that.”

The renovation is expected to boost annual revenue at Bristol. It entails removing fewer than 1,000 seats that cost $140 for a NASCAR weekend and replacing them with premium seats that cost double that amount or more.

The biggest change the 160,000-seat track is making is between turns 1 and 2, where it will remove seats just above the track and create a party deck called The Edge. Bristol is selling about 200 individual, standing-room-only tickets to the area for $275 for race weekends, with those tickets including a $25 on-site credit.

The Edge will have some high-top tables and chairs in its space. It also will provide fans with direct access to the concourse, where ticket holders can get food and drink. It won’t have a private concession area, though. Most NASCAR fans bring coolers to the race with beer, so private bar access at races isn’t as necessary as it is at basketball, football and baseball games.

The track is shopping a title sponsorship for the party deck but hasn’t sold one yet. Caldwell said that Budweiser, a Bristol sponsor that also has its name on a party porch at Daytona International Speedway, is the type of brand it believes would fit as a sponsor of the new deck.

Above the deck, Bristol is installing eight loge boxes. Six of the boxes will seat eight people; two will seat 10 people. The seats will be outside, in the bowl of the racetrack, but Bristol is completing a deal with a company to provide closed-circuit communication in the boxes so that spectators can listen to race-related information and talk to one another through headsets inside the track.

The loge seats are $375 a person for each race weekend, including a food credit.

In addition to those new areas, Bristol gutted one of its 64-person suites and turned it into a VIP suite for 24 guests. The suite will be called The Chairman’s Experience and cost $4,000 a seat. That price provides unlimited food and drinks and a concierge service that can provide rides to the garage, victory lane and pits before the race.

The name is a nod toward Bruton Smith, the chairman of Bristol’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc.

“Bruton wants everything at our place to be first class, so that’s what we’re going to deliver in this area,” Caldwell said. “Basically, anything you want to do — beginning to end, full access at Bristol — this is the way to do that.”

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