Indianapolis Motor Speedway is looking to make major modifications to the fabled track and speculation has already started on how the people on the corner of 16th and Georgetown will be spending the $100 million that they have requested from the state.
That number does sound preposterous, especially as public funding for stadiums has become more and more criticized and exponentially costly. It has been estimated that by the time the Miami-Dade County is done paying its loans for Marlins Park, the cost will be in the billions.
How has the speedway justified such funding from the state? To really understand, you have to understand that besides basketball, Indiana’s sport is motorsport. According to the Indiana Motorsports Association, 91 of 92 counties in Indiana include a business with a direct correlation to the motorsports industry. Whether it be Dallara or Sarah Fisher Racing being built in the redesigned Speedway, Ind., or Xtrac in Indianapolis, racing is everywhere in the Hoosier State.
There are some necessary modifications needed at the storied facility, which have been addressed. During the fall and winter of 2012, the turn one grandstands were removed and rebuilt, long before the announcement of a request for public funding had been made.
Among the major things which the speedway had asked the state government for was money for larger video screens and a new LED scoring system. The screens at IMS are no longer state of the art, and on a 2.5 mile track with grandstands in all four corners, fan viewership needed to evolve. Fans are demanding racetracks around the country to install large screens so they can keep track of the action instantly.
The biggest concern for the speedway in the past couple of years is the decline of Brickyard 400 attendance. The speedway has determined that one of the main reasons attributed to this is the time which the races are run. Sunday afternoon in an Indiana summer heat may be driving fans away, especially considering the lack of shade around a majority of the grandstands.
A solution which has emerged is to consider moving the race to Saturday night, meaning that lights will need to be installed all around the track. This costly expense is the basis for a majority of the proposal which the speedway has created.
All in all, the state will hopefully continue to support its most successful industry. Motorsports is vital to the state of Indiana and these modern improvements will continue to enhance the profitability of the track and the surrounding area. Night racing is more than likely coming to the Brickyard, with NASCAR branching out and creating its own tradition at one of the most famous tracks in the world.
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