Nashville's mayor, Bristol Motor Speedway and the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway have announced a deal that will provide $75 million in renovations in hopes the fairgrounds will become home to a NASCAR Cup series race.
The Metro Sports Authority will issue the 30-year bonds to pay for the renovations, and Bristol Motor Speedway has agreed to lease, manage and operate the track for 30 years.
The deal needs to be approved by the fair board and Nashville's Metro Council.
Metro government signed a letter of intent in March to explore having Bristol Motor Speedway manage the track.
The Tennessee Legislature approved a bill this year that allows the speedway to keep state sales tax on tickets, parking and sales at the track to put toward the renovation.
The bill became law July 1 with an estimated impact of $65,400 in tax revenue per year with that number growing to an estimated $734,000 per year if a NASCAR Cup series race comes to the fairgrounds. If a race came to Nashville, it would lead to an estimated $14 million in taxable revenue.
The track's grandstands are to be expanded to seat 30,000 spectators. Nashville Mayor John Cooper's office said the project will be funded through "rent payments, user fees and taxes paid by patrons of the venue, sponsorship agreements and event revenue."
The announcement did not say how much in bond revenue would be requested, but the mayor's office told the Tennessean and Axios Nashville the bonded amount would be $75 million.
“In keeping with the national profile that Nashville Soccer Club is bringing to the Fairgrounds in 2022, this innovative partnership will bring our historic speedway back to life as a crown jewel in the world of motor sports,” Cooper said. “Having professional soccer and NASCAR side by side will make our Fairgrounds a family destination for Nashville’s future. I look forward to working with Bristol, the State of Tennessee, the Fair Board, the Sports Authority and the Council on this proposal."
The track originally opened in 1904, making it the second-oldest speedway in the country. The track hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race from 1958-84.
“I still remember the first time I came to the Fairgrounds to race. I fell in love with the place after the first lap,” former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “Nashville Fairgrounds is a historic and iconic venue, and Bristol Motor Speedway is the very best partner to continue that storied history. I’m looking forward to witnessing the next chapter in the life of this historic landmark.”
One issue brought up by the public related to the proposal has been noise in the surrounding area. The proposal includes having Bristol Motor Speedway install "state-of-the-art sound mitigation components during track renovation and reduce track practice rentals to 20 days per year – a combination that will reduce sound impacts to surrounding neighborhoods by 50 percent," according to analysis conducted by Wrightson Johnson Haddon & Williams, an international acoustics engineering firm.