DIS President: Speedway "Deserves" Major Renovation Project; Uncertain About Timetable
Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood yesterday unveiled conceptual renderings which include grand entrances, wide concourses and improved amenities that “contemplate leaving the track's existing structures in place but making all those changes part of a proposed multiyear redevelopment,” according to Eileen Zaffiro-Kean of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Chitwood said, “The world center of racing deserves this kind of project.” He added, “The expectation that our fans have is that we have this major sports stadium ... moving forward for the next 50 years.” DIS parent company Int'l Speedway Corp.'s BOD would “have to give its approval” before any improvements “could be tackled.” Chitwood said that he “doesn't expect he'll be ready to go before the board and other senior executives until later this year.” He said that if “he gets the thumbs up … he could start solidifying a timetable, budget and detailed plans for improvements that could include a number of new seats to be added to the current 147,000.” Chitwood said that the track “overhaul idea evolved over the past year following a facility audit” of ISC's 11 properties across the country “that included a look at what needed work in Daytona Beach.” Chitwood: "We thought, 'what would it look like if we really invested in Daytona, not just fixed this or fixed that?'" He said that the speedway for now “will focus mostly on the frontstretch grandstands.” The frontstretch, which “has 101,000 of the nearly 147,000 total seats at the track, is where many fans prefer to be.” Chitwood: “That's where we can touch as many people as possible. With pit lane and pre-race, that's where your fans are the most engaged.” He said the final product should be “what you expect in a professional sports stadium nowadays.” Chitwood said, “The customer today is a lot different than the customer of 20 years ago” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/23). The AP’s Steve Reed noted the project currently will be “put on the back burner until after the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24.” Chitwood: "I hope to have something more creative in (late) February and I have to get in front of our senior management later in 2013 and hopefully at that point I will know cost because that's when I have to ask for approval. Then I will have more details about the timing" (AP, 1/22).