Councilman requests fair board contact NASCAR about speedway

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 6:53pm

Riding high after the triumph of Davidson County’s fairgrounds referendum, Metro Councilman Duane Dominy asked the Metro fair board Tuesday to deliver a “letter of inquiry” to NASCAR requesting the entity explore what it would take to return its racing series to the Fairgrounds Speedway. 

Tuesday’s meeting marked the first Metro Board of Fair Commissioners gathering since Davidson County citizens overwhelmingly voted Aug. 4 to approve a Metro Charter amendment that makes it more difficult to pursue the redevelopment of the 117-acre property. 

Coupled with the closure of Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County, Dominy believes now is the opportunity to explore new opportunities for the speedway. NASCAR held two premier Cub Series events at the track until 1984. 

“I would encourage you at the earliest opportunity to actually do some sort of letter of — at the very least — inquiry so that you can have those entities come out here and identify what can be done, what it would cost and what benefit it might be for the city,” Dominy told commissioners.

Dominy, re-elected to his Antioch-area council seat four weeks ago, also requested a “letter of inquiry” be delivered to the Electric Vehicle Cup series to explore its potential use of the Fairgrounds Speedway.

The commonly called “EV Cup,” which utilizes quiet, environmentally friendly eclectic vehicles, is currently held at two United States locations. Prior to Dominy’s request, a local resident gave an informal “EV Cup” presentation to the board. No vote was taken.

For 2011, the board has contracted NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. to hold racing events at the track.  

A formal proposal submitted by racing Nashville enthusiast Shane Smiley requests the board contact NASCAR about future racing at the speedway.  

Katy Varney, who chairs the board, said a vote on Smiley’s request would go before the five-member commission at its next meeting. However, she cautioned that a forthcoming fairgrounds master plan is already going to analyze future racing at the speedway. A company still isn’t hired to lead the master plan. 

“The question that they’re asking is a question that will be asked and answered in the master plan,” Varney said. “Their request is to do this on a separate, parallel and faster track than what they believe the master plan track will be.”

The fair board held a special meeting Tuesday not to consider racing opportunities, but to deliberate on increasing fees charged to expo center and flea market vendors. In the end, a vote wasn’t taken after the meeting ran more than two hours and number crunching wasn’t finalized.

Bruce Cowan, a consultant from the firm Maximus Inc., told commissioners the level of revenues coming in under the current model isn’t sustainable to break even. Last year, the cost to maintain the expo center exceeded incoming revenues by $488,000.

Using a graph, Cowan showed revenues have sharply nose-dived since 2007.

“You need more money,” he said. “You need some sort of offset. Something has to make money in order to offset those things that lose money. Otherwise, the expo center is going to sink.”  

According to Cowan, the flea market is adequately generating enough revenues to stay afloat. Thus, Maximus recommended marginal flea market fee increases, averaging between $10 and $25 hikes to use various buildings.

But he said the expo center is losing money with its corporate sales. His company has recommended substantial fees in this area. For example, renting the banquet hall for corporate events would jump from $925 to $2,249; the creative arts building, from $1,725 to $3,984; and the sports arena, from $975 to $1,749.

Buck Dozier, executive director of the Tennessee State Fair, has recommended the board adopt smaller increases, however.

Under Dozier and his staff’s recommendations, fees to hold corporate events at the banquet hall, creative arts building and sports arena would be $1,125, $2,200 and $1,300, respectively.

The board is set to vote on increases at its next meeting. A date isn’t finalized.  

17 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 8/30/11 at 7:18

Sounds like a winner to me.

By: Kosh III on 8/31/11 at 6:22

They decided MONTHS ago to do this "master" plan and yet they have done nothing.

I guess Dean is still trying to slow-walk the Fairgrounds to death. He must reallllly want to give this away this property to his corporate masters.

By: athyrio on 8/31/11 at 7:05

Raising fees for users won't work without making the facilities worth the added expense. Anyone who has been to the site for an event can tell you that the facilities are shabby and in need of a serious face lift. The condition of parking lots near the buildings is so bad as to be perilous. Cheap user fees attract cheap users. But higher user fees won't encourage someone to hold a cotillion at an outhouse.

By: producer2 on 8/31/11 at 7:08

I am sure that the 27 year absence by NASCAR was just an oversight....they just forgot to turn left when leaving Charlotte on their way to Bristol.

By: BigPapa on 8/31/11 at 7:10

NASCAR will run at the FG when hell freezes over. Maybe the councilman could request a study as to what it would take for everyone in Nashville to have a free Christmas?

By: rldavenport@com... on 8/31/11 at 7:29

I agree, BigPapa. There is no way on earth that NASCAR would seriously consider the FG speedway. You FG supporters may have passed the referendum, but what is your plan to improve the whole place? You continue to deny that the whole property needs upgrading, and your only significant argument is to maintain tradition. This article also shows, IMO, less than solid management of the FG as a whole.

By: localboy on 8/31/11 at 8:25

"This article also shows, IMO, less than solid management of the FG as a whole." Isn't that what got us to this point in the first place?

By: BigPapa on 8/31/11 at 8:36

Dean's a smart guy, he'll pull and end run around whatever the simpletons on the council toss at him. Eventually he'll get his way.. it may take longer, but he'll get his way.
And mainly he'll get his way because the track & FG are a disgrace and a failure.

By: titansjoe on 8/31/11 at 9:02

I believe NASCAR might be interested if the fairgrounds and track were upgraded. Regardless if Nascar comes to Nashville or not the track and fairgrounds need the city to upgrade. I have visited other fairgrounds recently in much smaller counties and their facilities may have been smaller but much better kept. As far as noise goes there were very loud tractor pulls and they were in mixed use areas.

Metro most likely is having trouble finding someone to lead the Master Plan that will give the desired results that the Dean machine would like. After all he and Rich Riebling has already used up one crooked consultant to help get the Convention Center passed. (I wish I knew why Metro didn't sue for their money back after finding out the Convention center study was bogus?)

Metro employs many people well qualified to do masonry work. They have many employees that are on the payroll capable of designing a very nice fairgrounds without outside contractors. They have people very qualified to plant trees, grow grass, paint, heavy equipment operators, dump trucks, paving equipment, plumbers, electricians or anything else needed to make a very nice fairgrounds and race track at a fraction of the cost of all the paid for studies and private contractors from out of state. But then again, I suppose if you want to see the fairgrounds fail it would be the best idea to see to it that it loses money and looks crappy.

Lets face it folks, the fairgrounds are being set up to fail. Anyone wanting to make the fairgrounds a pleasant place to visit and profitable at the same time could do so. The Dean Machine will demolish the fairgrounds and track. Count on it! The elections are almost over and those bought and paid for council members just re-elected will pretty much have enough votes to pass the demo of the fair grounds. If the council was truly interested in saving the fairgrounds, a 2 year reprieve would not have been needed. They would have simply implemented a plan to upgrade it.

By: tenn.Big Dog on 8/31/11 at 10:34

Tenn. Big Dog
IT IS OBVIOUS THAT KARL DEAN IS TRYING TO MAKE HIS CASH RESERVE GROW. IF I UNDERSTAND IT RIGHT, HIS WIFE HAS ALL THE MONEY, AND IT APPEARS THAT WHEN HE LEAVES OFFICE HE'LL BE AS RICH AS TRICKIE DICKIE WAS. HELL FULTON HAD ENOUGH MONEY TO START HIS OWN BANK..lol IF DEAN'S WIFE THROWS HIM OUT, HE MIGHT NOT BE IN THE BELLE MEADE TYPE OF SOCIETY THAT HE IS INTO NOW.. HOW MANY OF MAYOR DEAN'S 22 APPOINTEES ARE FROM FLATROCK OR CAB HOLLER? I WOULD VENTURE TO SAY, THAT NOT MANY ARE FROM OUTSIDE THE BELLE MEADE, GREEN HILLS, WEST MEADE ***ZIP CODES..*** WHY???
IT IS ALL ABOUT WHO OWNS THE BUSINESSES THAT ARE DOING BUSINESS WITH THE CITY, OR WHO ARE SWINGING THE BIG POLITICAL STICK WITH THIS DAMN YANKEE CARPETBAGGER...HE WILL CLOSE DOWN THE FAIRGROUNDS BY BLEEDING IT DRY. IF THE FAIRGROUNDS WERE PUT UNDER THE PARKS DEPARTMENT AND AWAY FROM THE FAIR BOARD WHICH IS A DAMN JOKE IN THE FIRST PLACE, THEN THE EMPLOYEES OF THE PARKS DEPARTMENT COULD SPEND A PART OF THEIR BUDGET ON THE FAIRGROUNDS AND NOT JUST THE PUTTING GREENS AT ALL THE GOLF COURSES THAT METRO MAINTAINS...COUNT UP HOM MANY GOLFERS THAT THERE ARE, THEN SEE HOW MANY OF THEM THAT THERE ARE COMPARED TO NASHVILLIANS AND OTHER REVENUE PRODUCERS THAT COULD AND WOULD COME TO A NICE FAIRGROUNDS COMPLEX, INCLUDING NASCAR, AND SEE HOW MUCH BETTER OFF THAT NASHVILLE WOULD BE...NASCAR WILL NOT COME BACK TO A SEATING CAPACITY OF LESS THAN THE SUPER SPEEDWAY HAD.. NASCAR IS NOT AS DESPERATE AS THE CITY OF NASHVILLE IS.. GOD HELP US BECAUSE THIS MAYOR AIN'T...

By: GUARDIAN on 8/31/11 at 12:14

GUARDIAN-The Fairgrounds would be just fine for NASCAR's regular racing series but not for CUP, TRUCK of BUSH. BUT I wouldn't go that way. If I were Hamilton I would start and get with another track like Nashville and start my own series. Call it the County Music Series or something like that and have a point series with the two tracks and keep it local to a 4 hour drive of Nashville. That way you put all the money back in the two tracks and not pay out what NASCAR's cut would be. Use NASCAR's Racing Series rules so you get some of their cars that race at RS tracks or at least close to those rules. I've owned a couple of tracks in the past and ran a few for other people plus I spent about 20 years in CUP so I know what I'm talking about. Bobby Jr. with a little help could grow that into several tracks within a few years and it not cost the racers as much. The Fairgrounds would have great racing, make money and grow a new sanctioning body. 40 years in racing has taught me that local racing is the heart and soul of the sport. It will work for everyone who wants it to.

By: BigPapa on 8/31/11 at 2:15

While NASCAR and Nashville seem to be a marriage made in heaven, it appears NASCAR figures it already has this market and doesnt need to do anything else to "improve" their position here.

By: karlwithak on 8/31/11 at 3:28

Bigpapa can you please explain how you came to the conclusion of what Nascar is thinking?
I think bigpapa knows as much about Nascar as Chris Johnson knows about 18th century authors.

By: Dr Danny on 9/1/11 at 5:27

Mayor Dean - tear down the Fairgrounds. This councilman is in need of counciling himself. Metro had their chance back in the 80's to invest in the Fairgrounds but they made some wrong decisions and NASCAR left and I do not blame NASCAR for doing that. It takes money to make money and Nashville is still having a hard time coming to grips with that.

By: JeffF on 9/1/11 at 12:58

The stories of the rental rates at the fairgrounds has left Producer in a tough spot. He has freely admitted that the convention center will be giving away meeting and event space for years and years. Makes him look silly in a goose/gander sort of way since his meeting industry will not be paying anything toward their facility,

By: BigPapa on 9/1/11 at 2:08

I know what NASCAR is thinking because they left this place 30 yrs ago and they havent hinted at coming back. They've killed off other races in the south and added races out west... They will not come to Nashville and that little track any time soon.

By: las04 on 9/2/11 at 12:31

" BigPapa" you don't have a clue what Nascar is thinking. First of all they are entertaining the possibility of coming back to the "Fairgrounds Speedway". They realize that the race fans want more short track racing and they are going to make some adjustments to accommodate their fans. As far as the fairgrounds supporters we gave the city the 1st master plan that would improve the entire 117 acres, not just the race track. Our master plan is one that would bring far more funds in return than the office buildings/ condos or a park that would cost the city to maintain and patrol. . We included everything that you nay sayers said you wanted to see at the site but you wont take the time to look or listen. The fair board has made it very obvious that they are being directed by that slim ball you call a mayor. They wouldn't know how to improve it if it hit them in the face. They need to be the first thing removed and then we might be able to have a panal of people who are TRUE fair board members. I live within 1/8 of a mile from the fairgrounds and I want to see it updated and improved like it deserves to be. There is know need to take it away. Take your snobby attitude and stick it up Karl Deans ass, sounds like you two are peas in a pod. THE MAJORITY HAS SPOKE...WE WANT TO KEEP THE FAIRGROUNDS.....!!!