The overhaul of Daytona International Speedway’s frontstretch will add restaurants, social areas escalators and more.
BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Despite the Florida legislature opting not to assist in renovations through the use of public funds, Daytona International Speedway will move ahead with plans to redo its facility beginning early next month — to the tune of $375 to $400 million.
Funding was approved Tuesday, by International Speedway Corp., which runs the 54-year-old speedway in Daytona Beach, as well as 12 other tracks. Construction is scheduled to finish January 2016, before the 54th-annual Rolex 24 and the 58th-annual Daytona 500.
“We are truly creating history with this unprecedented endeavor,” said Lesa France Kennedy, International Speedway Corp.’s CEO. “ … Our plan (will) redevelop the company’s signature motorsports facility, thereby shaping the vision of Daytona for the next 50 years.”
Work will focus on modernizing the facility’s nearly mile-long frontstretch, making the grandstands appear more like a professional sports arena, complete with 11 social “neighborhoods,” each the length of a football field, outfitted with restaurants, lounges, escalators and five new fan entranceways along International Speedway Boulevard. The main World Center of Racing neighborhood will serve as a museum highlighting the speedway’s 50-plus years of history.
Additional restrooms, concession stands, televisions and 53 viewing suites will also be added to the park.
“This significant private investment is a strategic use of our capital that will ensure the long-term viability of the iconic speedway,” France added, “and when completed, will contribute favorably to the company's revenues, as well as to our community and the sport as a whole.”
Every seat will also be widened, in addition to eliminating the stadium’s backstretch completely, gradually reducing capacity by 46,000. If 101,000 total seats prove to be too few, 24,000 seats could be added back in the future.
Following the state’s rejection of public fund contributions, International Speedway Corp. reduced the scope of its project, cutting from its plans, among other things, an overhaul of the midway area.
“It is unfortunate we are forced to scale back some elements, but the project will be designed for additional enhancements should future economic incentives present themselves,” said John Saunders, International Speedway Corp. president.
The company intends to pursue public incentives once more in 2014.
Next year’s race schedule should not be affected by the work, although some ancillary events may be impacted this year.