We ask that elected leaders in Nashville, including the Fair Board, Metro Council, and Mayor, oppose Bristol Motor Speedway’s planned expansion of the Nashville Fairgrounds that would turn this historic site into a loud and obnoxious NASCAR track.
As residents of Nashville we are no strangers to growth. We’ve watched as a long string of developments have changed the fabric of our downtown to better serve tourists and weekend partygoers. We are not anti-development and we support tourism, but we are strongly opposed to the proposed expansion of the Nashville Fairground Speedway. We ask that city leaders use our scarce financial resources, energy, and attention to focus on core issues in Nashville including the immediate need for affordable housing, sustainable infrastructure, real public transit options, and meaningful steps towards resolving homelessness and crime.
We respectfully ask: How does spending millions of dollars to bring in bigger, louder NASCAR races solve the most pressing concerns of Nashville? Doubling down on turning Nashville into a Las Vegas style destination for tourists ignores the desires and needs of a vast majority of our city residents. Nashville is already home to a football stadium, soccer stadium and a pro-hockey rink. And there is a NASCAR racetrack 30 minutes away.
Enough is enough. Let’s turn our focus to what matters for those who work and live in Nashville.
Consider these additional facts:
- The Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) plan would mean bringing louder cars, traffic, and larger crowds to the neighborhood where we live.
- Millions of dollars in taxpayer monies are wrapped up in the proposal to fundamentally change the makeup of our neighborhood.
- The Nashville Convention Visitors Corp, using city tax revenue, and the Tennessee State Legislature have each submitted $17M in funding for the project.
- Millions more are being loaned from the city to BMS through a Sports Authority bond to complete destruction of parts of the historic fairground and the expansion of the track to fit NASCAR vehicles.
- By their own admission, racing is a struggling industry with declining popularity. There’s a serious chance we get stuck with the bill in the long run all while having to bear the burden of noise, traffic, and more partygoers in the short run.
- Nashville’s racing fans already have another great option: there’s an existing NASCAR-compatible track 30 minutes from the city. There’s no reason to bring racing into Nashville as we already struggle with the effects of the overflow of tourists and partygoers.
- Races are already extremely loud — NASCAR vehicles are the loudest cars in racing.
- BMS Vice President Jerry Caldwell, and the company’s sound expert, admitted these events will be louder than anything we experience now – even with updated sound mitigation.
- Sound from these races will carry further throughout the city than anything that takes place at the Fairgrounds currently.
- Historic aspects of the original track will be paved over to allow NASCAR Sprint Cup races to be held at the Fairground.
- The proposal doubles the size of the grandstands to accommodate 30,000 visitors.
- There is no mention in the proposal of how BMS would help manage traffic for a 30,000-person event.
- The company, Bristol Motor Speedway, will have sole operational and financial oversight into the facility, despite the millions of dollars of public money going into the deal, bringing between 85 and 100 events days to the track.
- BMS obtains rights to 10 multi-day race weekends, four of which will be week-long events, 20 undefined events such as concerts, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp gets another 20 possibly multi-day events bringing downtown partying to the neighborhood, and 20 practice days.
- The agreement allows events to run until 10pm at night, or later if weather or other circumstances are a factor.
- The lease agreement runs for a term of 30 years entitling Bristol Motor Speedway to an existing and potentially expanding piece of our community for decades to come.
Pressing issues like increasing affordable housing, fixing decaying infrastructure and public transit, and approaching the problems of homelessness and crime need our attention and funding urgently. Another project that puts Nashville residents, their pocketbooks, and the future of our children on the line to promote more partygoers and weekend tourists does us all a disservice. It marks just one more step in the wrong direction for the future of Nashville.