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State of Tennessee should not provide funds for Bristol reconfiguration

By admin | April 23, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

As a race fan, I would like to see better racing at the Bristol Motor Speedway than has been conducted there since the track was resurfaced and reconfigured in 2007. But as a resident of the state of Tennessee, I do not want any of my tax dollars spent to bail out a large corporation and its billionaire boss after they chose to make the changes they made in the first place.

After seeing attendance trend downward since those changes to the track were made, the owners of the facility, Speedway Motorsports, Inc., announced after the most recent race in March that a fan poll would be conducted to determine whether or not fans wanted a change. According to the company, the response in favor of change was overwhelming.

An April 25th press conference is scheduled for SMI chairman O. Bruton Smith to announce exactly what changes will be made to the high banked, half-mile track. The company says the track can be returned to its previous configuration for $1 million. However, the need for a press conference to announce any reconfiguration causes one to wonder exactly what SMI has in mind since no real specifics have yet been given.

Since the announcement that changes would be made, Smith has met with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to discuss the possibility of the state providing funding for the proposed work.

Haslam called the meeting, “very, very preliminary.” The governor said no specific proposals were discussed, and no commitments made. “They’re an important part of the state,” he declared. “So, I sat down and talked with them today. Bristol is a huge part of our state revenue-wise. They didn’t have any specific proposals for us, nor did we have any for them, but it’s important for us to be in conversation with them about how they can get their attendance back to where they want it to be and where we want it to be, too.”

Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey added that, “Attendance was down over 50,000 people, and just the lost sales taxes for two races would be $1 million in revenue,” the state’s second in command told The Tennessean newspaper. “We have done things in the past, for tracks, for minor league ball clubs, and Bristol has never asked for anything before.”

Tennessee gave the Nashville Superspeedway $750,000 back in 2002 and 2003 as part of an incentive program to businesses. That was obviously money not well spent considering that track no longer hosts NASCAR races of any kind.

Somewhere in this I guess I am missing the logic, or perhaps there is no logic in a state government providing money to fund the mismanagement of a privately held company. Where is the sense in saying poor attendance cost the state $1 million in tax revenue so let’s give them another million and that might fix the problem?

The state should absolutely help with traffic, provide adequate roads into the facility and provide other means of support to Bristol Motor Speedway. But the operation of the facility itself is up to the SMI corporation.

Wednesday’s press conference regarding BMS should include information as to how Speedway Motorsports, Inc. intends to undo a bad decision they made in 2007 that brought about lackluster racing on a track that was once considered a ‘must see before you die’ event. But that announcement should not include any information about state tax money being used to support the bottom line of a major corporation headed up by one of America’s richest men.

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “State of Tennessee should not provide funds for Bristol reconfiguration”

  1. Charles Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Richard

    You are right on target!…Dont want any state money going to Nascar!

    There are better things for state money than improve a racetrack! Mainly here in N.C getting better roads and now they are want tolls on I95…and we have one of top 10 highest gas taxes in nation

    Here in North Carolina the Nascar lobby got bills passed to ‘reduce’ tax on jet fuel for corperate jets for Nascar teams who are based here…a few years ago..when governor Mike Easley was governor…remember he was the one who was driving Jimmy Johnsons car and wrecking it at Charlotte…he also was a pivot to getting the law passed..so we now have the rest of the story!

    Bruton Smith has this habit of saying he would be willing to move the races in Charlotte to another track if the folks dont do what he wants….as for me…’dont let the door hit you on the back”…

  2. Rick Brooks Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I’m tired of bailing out rich bigwigs. You see what the last bailout got this country. Even more in debt while all of the rich got to go to parties and receive raises. They built the damn thing, priced the little man out of being able to go, and now have the balls to ask us to fix it. Make a parking lot out of it or turn it back into a cow pasture. It’s already full of bull@#$% I could careless what they do to any NapCrap track as long as they foot the bill themselves. Yesterday was a fine example of what NapCrap turned into. JUNK.

  3. Bill Baggett Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Rich, I agree completely, as a resident of Nashville and a racefan. If it’s only gonna cost a million bucks to fix fix track, then if 10,000 tickets are sold, then Bruton has his mil. With the economy the way it is, my wife made me choose which race we would go to. I chose the night race, even though it cost me more money. We make it a family trip, we take the grandkids and their parents. With the high cost of hotels, we stay in Gatlinburg in a 2 bedroom condo because it’s cheaper. My wife and daughter can shop in the daytime while I play in the waterpark with the grandkids.

  4. Tony Geinzer Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Come on, we don’t need Bristol to be as lost as Nashville!

  5. Offkilter Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Completely agree! Good article

  6. Sue Rarick Says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Totally agree we in Tennessee should not have to pay for Bruton’s mistake. If Bruton should ask anyone for money it should be Nascar that has created a car that has led to boring boring racing.

    Maybe the progressive banking might have worked in a 1990 era car, but not todays cars.

  7. Wayne t. Morgan Says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Hell if we are gonna spend tax dollars let’s put money in the track at Nashville fairgrounds instead of Bruton’s pocket. But that shows as we all know the “big wigs” get it first and we get the rest.

  8. dawg Says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Here’s my take on Bristol. You opened by saying, “you’d like to see better racing there.” Having watched the racing there for some time. I believe that the racing is far, & away better than it’s ever been. Not to split hairs, but when anyone, fans included, say this. What they really mean is that they want it back like it was.
    Fair enough, the fans have spoken with their wallets, & the message has been received.

    That having been said, you are spot on with your tax money assessment.
    I don’t feel like public money should be spent on ANY private facility, infrastructure yes, actual facility, no.

  9. Gordon85Wins Says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Tennessee should agree to fund the fixing of the track only if NASCAR drops the Chase, which is the real reason the racing at Bristol is nowhere near what it used to be.

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