BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY CARRIES COMMUNITY SUPPORT TO NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This morning Bristol Motor Speedway requests a deferral of a proposed lease agreement to restore and operate Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
Given the difficulty in scheduling a public meeting for this legislation, there is not enough time for the three required legislative meetings, per its Charter, Metro Council’s last regularly scheduled meeting takes place August 15.
“We have strong community and Council support, but there are simply not enough meetings left in the current term for the required approval process,” said Bristol Motor Speedway President Jerry Caldwell. “Rather than push for an additional special-called meeting during an election season, we are asking bill sponsors to defer this proposal until a new mayor and council are in place.
“We look forward to engaging the new council and continuing our dialogue with Fairgrounds neighbors. This agreement would provide the city with an economically viable solution to fulfill its own Metro Charter obligation to maintain the speedway, shift the substantial financial burden currently on taxpayers onto our back, and deliver significant benefit to Fairgrounds neighbors through sound reduction, increased campus parking and new community spaces.”
Those commitments are popular with Davidson County likely voters and especially among those who reside closest to the Fairgrounds. Seventy-five percent of people who live within one mile of the Nashville Fairgrounds and two-thirds of those across the county support the proposed agreement, according to a survey of likely voters conducted this summer by Hart Research. A whopping 80 percent of supporters say they favor plans to include a state-of-the-art sound absorption wall at the facility to reduce noise.
“We remain 100 percent committed to Nashville, and we’re confident we can earn the support of the neighbors, Nashville residents and the next Metro Council to preserve this special local and national landmark,” Caldwell added.
Over the decades, Metro has lacked the capital to invest in the facility. The current facility has more than $40 million in unfunded maintenance backlog according to Metro’s hired consultant and needs safety improvements for drivers, fans and workers. It is not ADA compliant. Nashville residents are currently responsible for costs of all speedway repairs, improvements, and ongoing maintenance. This proposal would shift this financial obligation – all the current deferred maintenance plus tens of millions of dollars in future capital investment to modernize the speedway– away from local taxpayers and onto Bristol over the next 30 years. The Bristol partnership provides taxpayer relief, and will not require any general obligation debt or investment from the city’s general fund.
Modernization that benefits the neighborhood
Track renovations include a state-of-the-art sound barrier that along with other changes made by Bristol will reduce overall track auto sounds by 50 percent. Renovation of the speedway infield will create 400-plus additional parking spaces for the campus to support soccer games, flea market and other non-racing events.
Bristol has also agreed to a Community Benefits Agreement with The Urban League of Middle Tennessee and will continue to partner with neighbor nonprofits Conexion Americas, Glencliff High School, Fall-Hamilton School, Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, Operation Stand Down Tennessee, North Nashville Community Economic Development Consortium, in addition to creating a new chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway is the second-oldest operating motor speedway in the United States, with auto racing beginning in 1904. Originally home to harness horse racing, the Fairgrounds track dates back to 1891, one year before Ryman Auditorium opened its doors.