May 31, 2023
The Honorable Jim Shulman
Members of the Metropolitan Council
Metropolitan Council Office
One Public Square
Nashville, TN 37219

Dear Vice Mayor Shulman and Members of Metro Council,

I would like to provide you with current information on the proposed Bristol Motor Speedway lease partnership with Metropolitan Nashville Government for the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (NFS). A vote for the agreement is a vote to preserve Nashville’s history, enhance the surrounding Fairgrounds neighborhood, bring limited NASCAR racing back to Nashville, and generate millions of dollars of revenue for local businesses.

The Fairgrounds is a communitywide asset for the cultural enjoyment of all Nashvillians, a facility that is part of Nashville’s identity and has been around even longer than the Ryman Auditorium. The Fairgrounds, and the surrounding community, deserve better than the current state of disrepair of
NFS. Bristol Motor Speedway proposes to restore the track, add additional parking for non-racing events such as soccer games, flea market, and concerts at GEODIS Park, build a sound absorption barrier to substantially reduce auto racing sounds, and provide hundreds of well-paying jobs for the community.

I think it is also important to note that the letter of opposition from a Fairgrounds neighbor raising “significant concerns” about this plan to preserve the historic speedway, appears to favor the track’s ongoing decline and an eventual end to racing on the campus. As you know, in 2011 Nashville Fairgrounds supporters rallied 71 percent countywide support to preserve the Fairgrounds and all its uses, including auto racing. Nashville has an obligation to maintain NFS but until now has lacked any viable plan for its future.

I am, however, glad the letter refers to “protecting taxpayers” because the Bristol partnership provides immediate and material financial relief for taxpayers by shifting $40 million of legally necessary capital improvement obligations to Bristol Motor Speedway and away from Nashville taxpayers. If approved, taxpayer savings can be used for other important services such as education, first responders, and crime prevention.

Another interesting assertion is the concern about placing two sports facilities adjacent to one another. As I'm sure the Council considered when it voted to place a soccer stadium next to the existing speedway, a multi-sports complex is beneficial for all. In fact, at least five additional examples
come to mind where multi-sports complexes exist, including in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

The letter makes an assertion about increased programming, when, in reality, the Bristol partnership will not increase the current schedule of 10 motorsports event weekends each year. NASCAR Cup races are planned for only one weekend every other year – once every 730 days.

In 2021 and 2022, at the direction of the Fair Board and the district Council representative, we hosted 30 distinct in-person or virtual community engagement sessions with the surrounding neighborhood groups to better understand their desire for a restored speedway. Our partnership with the city is
based on the feedback we received from our neighbors during those sessions. Two consensus priorities emerged – sound and parking. Our plan responsibly addresses both sound mitigation and creating substantial new parking for non-race events. We are also proud to have formed partnerships with many of our neighbors including Glencliff High School and Fall Hamilton Elementary School, Conexión Américas and its Casa Azafrán facility, Operation Stand Down Tennessee, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.

I will close by saying, approval of the Bristol partnership would solve major operational and financial problems by placing the care and future of the speedway in the hands of an industry leader, while also improving quality of life for the surrounding neighborhoods.

Rejection of the Bristol partnership would mean Nashville taxpayers will be on the hook for maintenance and operation of the track, which is projected to be in excess of $40 million, with more obligations in the future.

Throughout this process our goal has always been to be a good neighbor and to enhance the community for all entities adjacent to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have and we look forward to working with all
members of Council in the weeks ahead to discuss this important opportunity.

Jerry Caldwell
President and General Manager
Bristol Motor Speedway