Speedway Motorsports continues to pitch Nashville Speedway renovations, framing its proposal as complimentary to stalled plans for a Nashville SC stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville.
Nashville SC and Nashville mayor John Cooper have yet to break their impasse over the team’s future stadium, a project previously approved by city officials as part of an agreement that includes 10 acres of development on an adjacent site. Under the original agreement, preparation of the project site, including demolition of old, unused buildings at Fairgrounds Nashville, should have been well underway by now. However, Cooper–who assumed office four months ago–has not signed off on the demolition work and has begun negotiations with Speedway Motorsports over a proposal to bring NASCAR racing to a renovated Nashville Speedway at the Fairgrounds.
Speedway Motorsports has pitched the renovations as part of a $60-million project, requesting in the process that the development component of the Nashville SC stadium project be scaled back in order to provide unimpeded access to the racetrack. Nashville SC ownership agreed to redesign 100 feet of the parcel closest to the speedway, but has expressed concerns that scaling back the development too much would prevent the team from meeting the terms of a community benefits agreement (CBA) with Stand Up Nashville.
With the impasse between the team and Cooper still unfolding, Speedway Motorsports officials participated in meetings this week with Nashville and Tennessee officials. Publicly, Bristol Motor Speedway executive vice president Jerry Caldwell is pitching the speedway renovation as something that could compliment the MLS stadium by helping to create a multi-use sports and entertainment district. More from The Tennessean:
In his statement Tuesday, Caldwell said the racing group became excited about its future in Nashville after it was awarded the MLS franchise and committed to building a new soccer stadium.
“It is within the city’s reach to have a thriving multi-use sports and entertainment complex to create a true landmark for the city,” Caldwell said….
Speedway Motorsports said the close proximity of the proposed development to the racetrack makes the flow in and out of the track nearly impossible and creates a potential public safety issue. Nashville SC has agreed to redesign 100 feet of the parcel next to the racetrack.
But Cooper, who has held off approving demolition since October, has not said publicly if he supports the Speedway Motorsports pitch to renovate the racetrack to bring NASCAR back to the city.
The deal is under review, but Cooper said he wants a “multi-functional” plaza-like space that links two 30,000-seat stadiums — soccer and racing.
In some respects, there is an argument to be made that a renovated speedway would enhance the Nashville SC stadium project, as the development could serve a new MLS stadium along with a speedway that draws NASCAR-sanctioned events. With plenty of questions remaining about funding, however, the speedway renovations are far from a public vote, much less a public discussion–perhaps part of the reason why the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners is calling on Cooper to “decouple” speedway negotiations from the Nashville SC stadium project.
As for Nashville SC, the club launched a public campaign on Sunday urging Cooper to move forward with the project, including a website and an online petition. It continued the campaign Wednesday with a tweet directed at Cooper:
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) February 12, 2020
Rendering courtesy Nashville SC.
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