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Volume 20 No. 42
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Daytona to showcase amenities

$400M makeover heavy on premium

Daytona International Speedway plans to develop the most sophisticated, premium-seat experience NASCAR has to offer.

The track’s $400 million renovation project, which begins next week, will introduce big league amenities to the most important track on the NASCAR circuit. It also will bring an end to decades of hosting corporate pre-race hospitality outdoors in tents that shut down after the race starts.

Come February 2016, pre-race hospitality parties for the Daytona 500 will continue uninterrupted inside the track with high-end lounges tied to new and larger suites.

“This was the priority in this redevelopment, making sure we had the premium experience that matches up with what people expect,” said Daytona President Joie Chitwood. “No one else in motorsports will be able to offer what we’re offering.”

The project, which is being designed by sports architect

The project will allow Daytona to move the hospitality experience from tents outside the track to areas such as suites and lounges in a reconstructed grandstand.
Images by: ROSSETTI (2)
Rossetti, introduces about 80 new suites tied to a reconstructed grandstand tower along Daytona’s frontstretch. A mezzanine level in the middle of the tower will include more than 50 suites that can accommodate groups of 50 to 400 spectators and cater to individual ticket holders. The top two floors, the tower’s sixth and seventh levels, will have more than 30 larger, more traditional skyboxes for Daytona’s biggest sponsors that can seat 50 to 100 people.

“What we’re hearing [from our corporate partners] is we have to have more choices,” Chitwood said. “What was happening was we only had options for 50 to 100 people. The key is creating an experience inside and to make sure it is customized.”

Driving the project was forging a better connection to the event for the corporate partners forced to do most of their entertaining before the race — and for some, outside the facility. Bringing the premium experience inside the track removes a barrier that existed and eliminates the need for the tentlike chalets that corporations bought in the past, project officials said.

Rather than buying a chalet with synthetic turf interiors and white-picket-fence exteriors, they will be able to choose from customizable interior spaces on the mezzanine level. One of the options will be Midway Suites, which will have movable walls that allow Daytona to create a space that accommodates groups with as few as 75 people or as many as 400. The 20-plus Midway Suites won’t have views of the track but will be a place where suite holders can entertain before, during and after the race.

In addition, the mezzanine level will have High Bank Suites to fit 50 to 100 people each. Those units have views of the track and open onto a patio with seats below the patio.

Some amenities will be similar across all new suite inventory. There will be Wi-Fi access for corporate meetings and presentations, indoor seating, upscale food offerings with serving stations, lounge areas and bars with checker-flagged-themed backsplashes.

The 80-plus suites are an increase over the 66 suites Daytona currently sells. The 38 skyboxes in the frontstretch and 28 suites on the backstretch will be eliminated as part of the renovation.

Chitwood declined to discuss pricing of the suites or share how much the new premium seating will boost Daytona’s bottom line because the speedway is part of International Speedway Corp., a publicly traded company that owns 12 motorsports facilities.

Sales of the new suites will be handled by Daytona and ISC staff. Current suites range in price from the mid-five figures to the low six figures annually. The cost covers several race events, including Daytona’s two Sprint Cup events, Chitwood said. Americrown, which is owned by ISC, will provide catering for all of the premium areas.

During the design process, Chitwood and ISC executives drew from the premium experiences they saw offered during visits to several arenas and stadiums, including Barclays Center, Staples Center, Cowboys Stadium and Ford Field.

“What we were trying to come up with was a model to integrate hospitality spaces for the corporate partners so they feel like they are in the stadium experience,” said Jim Renne, Rossetti’s principal in charge of the project. “That’s not something they have right now.”