CRVA CEO Retools, Turns Focus To NASCAR Hall Of Fame
NASCAR Hall of Fame. Photo: Jennifer Lang Charlotte's main tourism agency - the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority - is undergoing reorganization that CEO Tom Murray says could also spell relief for the beleaguered NASCAR Hall of Fame. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is probably the CRVA's biggest albatross right now, but Tom Murray has had a different focus during his first three months as CEO. His priority has been finalizing the merger of two tax-funded tourism agencies that created the CRVA back in 2004. "We got stalled at the merger and people kind of still protected their turf," Murray told city council members last night as he outlined a new management structure for CRVA. "Today we are now finally getting the opportunity to finalize the merger as planned." To this point Visit Charlotte, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and various venues such as the convention center and Time Warner Cable Arena have operated as separate organizations loosely affiliated under the CRVA umbrella. Murray is elevating six people - including NASCAR Hall of Fame director Winston Kelley - as vice presidents of CRVA. They'll be officers of CRVA, rather than kings of their own separate castles. "It's getting everyone on the same team in this one CRVA world," says Murray. "Instead of having to fight with other parts of the businesses and saying 'Why can't we sell more Hall of Fame (passes) when we sell a convention?' It's a little different when they're all incented to do it." With restructuring underway, Murray's focus shifts to the Hall of Fame, which ran a budget deficit of more than a million dollars and attracted barely a third of the 800,000 attendees boosters originally projected for its first year of operation. Murray says the recession played a role, "but even if the economy went down, we probably would never have made those numbers." Murray says the Hall of Fame must be "right-sized" to operate with a more realistic attendance goal. Expect the Hall of Fame to experiment with shortened tours and discounts aimed at convention-goers who are not going to the venue because they lack the time or money. Murray also says the Hall of Fame's recent experiment with offering local residents a discount has proven successful and may become permanent.