Renovations Could Land Football Games At DIS; Chitwood Dubs Race Weekend A Success
Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood III on Saturday said that with the track's $400M renovation, "events such as football games -- potentially even professional football games -- soccer and music could all be hosted at DIS," according to Brian Linder of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Chitwood said, "I think if we are going to make this kind of investment in this property, we should be looking at what other unique sporting events we can host here. I think there is no set plan, but it gives us a chance to start looking at soccer friendlies, football, music … who knows" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7). Chitwood regarding the renovation said that he "expects construction fencing to go up first and the Speedway's tram tours will begin a new route to accommodate construction" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/8). In Jacksonville, Don Coble noted drivers Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne "won a competition involving giant front-end loaders Friday to win the right to break ground" on the renovation at DIS that will "result in the loss of 46,000 seats." Biffle and Bayne "maneuvered around an obstacle course, beating the team consisting" of drivers Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman and the team of broadcasters Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/6).
LACKING APPEAL: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi noted while ticket sales were up slightly for Saturday's Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400, but the "fact is that the crowd at this NASCAR race and most others is not even close to what they once were." Bianchi: "Chitwood and other track executives are doing everything in their power to lure fans to their venues." At Saturday's race, adult tickets could "be bought for $45 and the kids could get in" for $10. The price of that ticket "included a Sheryl Crow concert before the race, a massive fireworks display after the race, and" former NBAer Shaquille O'Neal and actors Adam Sandler and Kevin James serving as grand marshals during the race. In today's world of "skyrocketing ticket prices, that's a pretty good deal." NASCAR has the "unique challenge of its two most popular drivers rarely winning races." Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won "just once in the last five seasons," while Danica Patrick has been a "non-factor" since winning the pole at the season-opening Daytona 500 (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/7). In Daytona Beach, Steve Master wrote one explanation for light crowds at DIS this weekend "might be" that July 4 "fell on a Thursday, and many had to return to work on Friday, precluding a long weekend." Another "might be NASCAR's attendance slump -- something not often admitted but noticeable enough, especially of late." Master: "Few can remember a NASCAR crowd thinner than the one at Friday night's Nationwide race" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7). Also in Daytona Beach, Ken Willis noted the crowd for Saturday's race was "estimated at 90,000." It was a "day and evening that went off without a noticeable hitch." Given the "variety of issues that have plagued events at Daytona over the past few years, that was welcome news." Saturday's pre-race hours "weren't lacking for interest and/or entertainment" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7).