NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN)- Nashville is on track to becoming one of the most exciting stops for racing in the near future.
On Friday, Mayor John Cooper announced he has signed a letter of intent with Bristol Motor Speedway to renovate Fairgrounds Speedway, moving one step closer to a return of NASCAR.
Bristol Motor Speedway would have a long-term contract to lease, manage, and operate Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, if approved by the Board of Fair Commissioners and Metropolitan Council.
“The goal of the partnership is to bring our historic racetrack back to life as a valuable and exciting part of the Fairgrounds,” said Mayor John Cooper. “We have an obligation to maintain the track, so it is smart for Nashville to engage a strong, long-term partner from the auto racing industry to operate it successfully. The business terms in this LOI protect Nashville, with multiple revenue streams to make this a financial success. We can put this landmark back on the national stage. I look forward to working with the Fair Board and the Metro Council in the months ahead.”
The sport has a long history at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, with NASCAR Cup Series races taking place at the venue from 1958 through 1984.
It’s currently the second-oldest operating motor speedway in the United States, dating back to 1904. Some of the most historic figures in the sport have raced there, including the late Dale Earnhardt. His son and longtime driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has shown his interest in bringing NASCAR back to Nashville. He was in town earlier this week and after Mayor Cooper shared the news, Earnhardt quickly responded on Twitter saying, “The dream of NASCAR returning to the historic Nashville Fairgrounds is another step closer to reality.”
With the wheels now in motion, proposed improvements include a racetrack renovation, noise mitigation, safety upgrades, more seating and the addition of auxiliary facilities.
Here are key terms to the letter of intent:
- Metro would issue no more than $50 million in bonds for racetrack renovations, as is already specified in the Capital Improvements Budget. Debt service and project-related expenses would be fully covered by revenues generated from racing and non-racing event activities held at the track, including lease payments, and taxes and fees generated by track event patrons.
- Under a lease and management agreement, BMS would pay Metro an annual lease payment for track management and operations and share a percentage of revenues from events. Additionally, for four weeks a year, BMS would lease all Fairgrounds property (except for the MLS stadium and commercial developments) for $1 million annually to host major racing events.
- BMS, which possesses decades of major auto racing design, construction, and operations experience, would serve as development manager for track and facility renovations. Improvements would include safety upgrades, spectator amenities, and new ancillary facilities for both racing and non-racing experiences.
- Noise mitigation would be an integral part of the redesign and track improvements.
- BMS is committed to an extensive community engagement process with neighborhood residents and Nashville organizations.
- The new operating model for the speedway will provide the neighborhoods around the track with schedule certainty so residents know in advance when racing and practice will occur.
- BMS will renovate the racetrack to meet NASCAR safety and design standards necessary to host national series events and modernize NFS as a multi-function facility for non-racing special events to generate tourism-related revenue that is healthy for Nashville.