Crain News Service report
INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 13, 2013) — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) announced plans on Dec. 10 for track modifications and upgrades to enhance fan experience.
The improvements include additions of track aprons in the turns for NASCAR events, new video screens, improved catch fencing, a new scoring pylon and improved restroom facilities.
The list of proposed improvements carries a price tag of about $140 million, according to Jeff Belskus, Hulman & Co. president and chief administrative officer. The project does not include lights for the facility—a $20 million project in itself—because it was determined that lights did not bring a strong enough return on investment.
The project also includes the recently completed repaving and renovations to the road course that will be used for an IndyCar race scheduled for May 10, 2014.
“We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from Hoosiers, the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Mike Pence to assist us with needed capital improvements,” Mr. Belskus said. “We have a plan for IMS that assures the best return for taxpayers and enhances our role as an economic engine for the state.”
The plans were approved by the Indiana Motorsports Commission.
The plans also outlined the need for increased concession choices, more on-site entertainment, improved access and improved traffic flow and parking.
Wireless access throughout the facility was also addressed as a priority to enhance the fan experienced.
“We’ll complete our master plan next spring, but the first upgrades, which complement our new month of May, are already under way,” Mr. Belskus said. “We just completed paving the newly modified road course that will host the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 and be used by MotoGP competitors in August. Our fans also will see a new scoring pylon and new video screens next spring. And that’s just the beginning.”
Additional plans for IMS development and enhancement beyond the funding managed by the Indiana Motorsports Commission also will be included in a master plan to be released in spring 2014.
“We started with ideas for improvements that totaled hundreds of millions of dollars, and we’ve reduced our list to a list of potential projects with total spending of about $140 million,” Mr. Belskus said. “Now we have some difficult decisions ahead to pare the list further before we ask the commission for its approval.”
IMS officials believe that capital improvements in fan experience and track modifications will make the track a more attractive venue with higher quality racing events.
“Improving the quality of racing will grow ticket sales,” Mr. Belskus said. “For example, adding an apron to the track would improve the passing opportunities during the [NASCAR] Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard.”
The apron only will be used for NASCAR racing and will cost less than $1 million. The estimated cost for lights is $20 million.
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.