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Volume 24 No. 155
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Texas Motor Speedway Announces Plans For Largest Video Board In The U.S.

Texas Motor Speedway last night announced plans to build the largest video board in the country, a 124-foot-tall by 218-foot-wide Panasonic screen that will be nicknamed “Big Hoss TV.” The video board will be completed in time for the track’s April 3-6 NASCAR race weekend, and TMS President Eddie Gossage expects it to attract new fans and help retain existing ones. Gossage said, “The things that stadiums of all types are having to address is answering the issue of competition posed by the big screen at home and the proliferation of social media. In our sport, with things moving so fast and venues being so big, I could be looking at turn three and turn four when something happens in turn one and turn two and miss it. Now, fans will be able to see replays of that and it will greatly improve the experience at the track on raceday.” TMS follows Charlotte Motor Speedway to become the second track to add a video board. CMS installed a 80-foot-tall by 200-foot-wide video board in '11. The price of the video board in Texas was not available, but the Cowboys paid $40M for their video board at Cowboys Stadium, which is 9,000 square feet smaller. Gossage said that CMS has already paid off its board and is operating in the black. Gossage said, “We like that.” Unlike Charlotte, which jointly sells advertising with Panasonic on its board and shares the revenue, Texas will sell advertising independently and keep its revenue. Panasonic is its first sponsor of the board. Gossage said that TMS typically is filled to 85% of capacity for races. He added, “We feel like this will retain the customers we have. We also think it’s a big tool for people coming for the first time" (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).

COWBOY UP: Gossage: “As everybody raises the bar, you’ve got to as well. It’s not about topping the Cowboys. It’s about doing the best we can for the fans. I would tell you, though, you’ve got to give [team Owner Jerry Jones] and the Cowboys all the credit, because they made this a big-screen market.” In Ft. Worth, Carlos Mendez notes at 20,633.64 square feet of usable space, the TMS screen will be 79% "bigger than the Cowboys’ 11,520-square-foot board." The Texans have 14,549 square feet, and CMS -- also owned by Speedway MotorSports Inc., the TMS owner -- has 16,000. TMS officials said that the board would be built "to withstand winds of 120 mph" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/24).

IF YOU'RE EVER IN TEXAS: In Dallas, Eddie Sefko notes the project "has been on the drawing board for years," and SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith "signed off on the idea in December." Gossage joked, saying track officials were waiting “for the right annual percentage rate." The screen is "not without some concerns," as it will face due west, meaning the "glare will have to be overcome." Gossage said that that "shouldn’t be a problem." Gossage: “How bright is it? The sun will set on it every day. And so it has to be bright enough that it will be visible. It’s real bright” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/24). Gossage said that NASCAR tracks are "facing the same challenges drawing crowds as college and pro football teams because some fans are more inclined to watch games on big-screen, high-definition TVs along with the accessibility of reliable Internet access for social media applications." Gossage: "All stadiums are trying to do battle with guaranteeing our fans aren't going to miss a thing. Fans won't miss a replay or a pit stop. We're trying to get them off their couch and see, smell, taste and experience great racing. Big screens are affordable, and home theaters are comfortable but there's nothing that compares to attending any event live. Now we've taken away one of the arguments some people have. They don't need to stay home" (USA TODAY, 9/24).

ALSO ON THE AGENDA: TMS also announced that its spring NASCAR race schedule will change. The track typically holds its Sprint Cup race on Saturday night but will move the race to Sunday, April 6, the day after the NCAA men’s Final Four is played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Gossage said that TMS already has been contacted by seven companies that want to rent the speedway for Final Four-related hospitality events. He added that the track is rolling ticket packages into those rentals. He said, “We’re going to try and reach out to as many corporate customers as we can and tell them we have the perfect opportunity to do something unique on Final Four weekend. We’re going to hit local (college) markets the week before the games and let fans know coming from whatever college is playing that there’s a big NASCAR race in town that weekend” (Mickle).