NASCAR targets Music City for banquet
Nashville is expected to become the new home of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series awards banquet, according to sources, adding to the Music City’s increasing importance for the sport.
NASCAR’s multiday event brings together hundreds of members of the racing industry and generates national media exposure for the host city. It would be another feather in the cap for Nashville’s ability to land big events.
NASCAR has held the banquet for the last 10 years in Las Vegas; New York City played host to the event for 27 years before that. NASCAR’s deal with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which included an annual $400,000 subsidy, expired and was not renewed for 2018 but NASCAR still returned there for the event last year as it plotted long-term plans.
Industry sources say Nashville is now the city closing in on hosting the event starting this year, though NASCAR and Nashville have yet to make a formal announcement because the deal isn’t finished. It was not clear whether Nashville would offer any financial incentives for the event.
The move comes amid talks between track operator Speedway Motorsports Inc., the city and a local promoter to bring NASCAR races back to Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway, which is adjacent to the site of the new MLS stadium being built. Given its status as the home of country music, the addition of races and an awards gala would quickly vault the city back into one of NASCAR’s most important markets.
NASCAR has a long history in Nashville, where the premier series raced at Fairgrounds Speedway from 1958 to 1984. NASCAR’s lower-rung national series, now known as the Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, competed there until 2000 and later at the newer Nashville Superspeedway.
NASCAR declined comment, while a spokesperson for Nashville’s convention and visitors corporation did not respond.
One person familiar with the matter said that executives from the sanctioning body and the major track operators visited Nashville recently to meet with local leaders and tour possible sites for the banquet. The city’s Music City Center, which opened in 2013, would be the likely venue.
Charlotte was also thought to be in the mix to land the banquet, as NASCAR’s other national series, the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series, host their annual galas in a dual event in Charlotte.
But Nashville over-indexes among NASCAR fan demographics, and it was one of the key markets the sanctioning body targeted last season for increased advertising because of the growth potential.
The banquet will be yet another big win for Nashville’s sports and convention business. The city will play host to the 2019 NFL draft in April.