Daytona targets 100K seat capacity

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Daytona International Speedway will have shrunk by 46,000 seats and eliminated the backstretch grandstands when it completes a three-year, $370 million to $400 million renovation set to begin after the July 6 Sprint Cup race in Daytona Beach, Fla.

It was announced on Tuesday that International Speedway Corporation will undertake the remodel to completely revamp NASCAR's flagship track.

The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 and Daytona 500.

Seating capacity at DIS, once 162,000 and currently 147,000, will be 101,000 when the project is completed. All of the focus will be on the front grandstands where every seat will be replaced with wider, more comfortable seats.

Fifty-three suites are planned, along with football field-size concourses designed to create a "neighborhood" feeling. Final determinations for what will be done with the area where the backstretch grandstands are to be torn down have not been made. Those stands have been closed for several years for the July race due to decreased ticket sales.

Track president Joie Chitwood III said there will have to be some pricing adjustments with the loss of the backstretch seats, where most ticket prices were under $100 for the Daytona 500.

"We've got to readjust our pricing mix so that we have affordable seats on the frontstretch, and we're committed to doing that," Chitwood said. "We're committed to making sure that our fans can continue to bring in coolers, all of their own food and drink, and committed to continuing our free parking in our lots 7 and 10.

"Just because we're going to make this huge investment in our property, we're not going to transfer that downstream to our fans."

The project will be funded by ISC out of its $600 million capital expenditure budget in place for all of its tracks from 2013-2017.

An attempt to create a private/public partnership with a tax bill was shot down by the state legislature earlier this year.

"So we're still disappointed in terms of being in Tallahassee this past year and the inability to have a partnership with the state," Chitwood said. "One of the things that we had to do is look at our scope, and one of the things that we took out of scope was the major overhaul of the midway area. We cannot make any permanent infrastructure improvements to that area. I am proud to say we've been able to maintain all of the amenities that we wanted to add in the grandstand structure."