ISC tracks turn to AEG for advice on upgrades
The strategy behind the $400 million renovation of Daytona International Speedway is to build on the major league business model for developing a facility tied to founding partners and branded sponsorship zones starting at the entry gates.
To get there, International Speedway Corp., owner of Daytona and a dozen other tracks that host NASCAR events, turned to AEG for consulting on services including sponsorships, premium seating and booking more concerts and other non-racing events at their facilities.
As part of a multiyear agreement that started in 2013, AEG executives have been sharing best practices from their facilities with Daytona President Joe Chitwood and Craig Neeb, ISC’s vice president of development and chief digital officer.
“They were the first to admit their tracks are outdated with today’s guest experience,” said Mark Faber, senior vice president of AEG Global Partnerships.
“AEG is a very successful venue operator globally and best in class,” ISC President John Saunders said. “We’ve engaged them as we deploy this strategic capital over the next several years. It’s a new landscape and they’re very adept at it and willing to coach us along.”
|Chicagoland Speedway will debut the Green Flag Garage.
AEG provided feedback on, among other things, ISC’s concepts for developing flexible group suite products inside the track at Daytona to accommodate 50 to 300 people, depending on demand.
“It reinforces that we were thinking the right way, that our sponsors are entertaining in smaller groups but still wanted a more high-end space,” Chitwood said. “The more knowledge we can gain as we make these renovations, the better off our fans will be.”
This year, ISC’s Chicagoland Speedway is developing new hospitality spaces that include the Green Flag Garage and Legends Club, track President Scott Paddock said.
AEG’s consultants took ISC officials, including Paddock, through their pyramid model for premium seating, starting at the high end with traditional suites and trickling down to the loge and theater box products trending at NBA and NHL arenas.
“As you go down the list, it was enlightening for us to know there is a larger universe of people who can opt in at that [reduced] price level,” Paddock said.
The Green Flag Garage at Turn 1 is a conversion of the Nationwide Series garage for the Sprint Cup race that now offers fans a pre-race experience with access to NASCAR drivers, plus a guided tour of the Sprint Cup Series garages. The track is selling 350 of those packages.
Those areas were previously off limits for fans before Sprint Cup competitions. The track follows the lead of Michigan International Speedway, one of the first to market an “open garage” for unprecedented access, said Jill Gregory, NASCAR’s vice president of industry services.
The cost for access to the Green Flag Garage is $149, which includes a Fan Zone Pit Pass valued at $50. The pit pass alone provides pre-race access to pit road and other event-level spaces. Race tickets are not included in the package.
“The things I’ve learned in three years in this sport is that race fans want access to the drivers up close and they are willing to pay for unique and premium experiences,” Paddock said.
The Legends Club, meanwhile, is a new all-inclusive suite designed for smaller companies that still prefer a high-end experience, he said. Situated in Turn 4, the group space provides a panoramic view of the start/finish line.
The season-ticket price is $1,445 a person for the track’s five racing events in 2014. For the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend, Sept. 12-14, the price is $1,245 a person. For individual events, pricing ranges from $250 to $750 a person, track officials said. Those fees cover the cost of food and drink, including beer and wine. Hard liquor is a separate fee.
The Legends Club has a capacity of 160 and it replaces what was a combination of dead space and a portion of the press box, Paddock said. He compared it with Soldier Field’s United Club as a shared experience for firms entertaining four to 12 customers.
Chicagoland Speedway is still developing the full list of amenities for the Legends Club, but those patrons can expect retired NASCAR drivers to stop by and visit as part of their experience, Paddock said.