'We Won't Ask For City Money' Says NASCAR Hall Of Fame
The NASCAR Hall of Fame officials admit they were too optimistic in their projection for 800,000 visitors this year. With just 170,000 attendees so far, the hall has fallen far short, leading the Charlotte City Council to question the facility's management and marketing strategy at a meeting last night. Lower the ticket price. Spend more money on advertising. Offer a locals discount. City council members were full of ideas to help the NASCAR Hall of Fame boost attendance. Councilmember Andy Dulin asked Tim Newman of the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority (CRVA) why the Hall of Fame would be closed on Thanksgiving. "Let that parade march right through the front doors!" said Dulin. "You can't miss this opportunity!" "All I'll say is 'Amen' to your suggestion," replied Newman. "I don't think it's logistically possible for us to open this Thursday, but this is the kind of input (we welcome). We're all in this together." Indeed, we are in this together. The $195 million Hall of Fame is managed by the CRVA and funded largely by a tax on hotel rates. It was supposed to turn a profit this year, but instead has lost nearly half a million dollars. The chairman of the CRVA board says the NASCAR Hall of Fame needs 350,000 visitors to break even this year. Only 170,000 have come so far, with the next few months projected to be the slowest time of year. NASCAR senior vice president Paul Brooks says the racing organization is deferring $5 million in royalties from the Hall of Fame and has upped its financial support -including a million dollar sponsorship and several million more in advertising. "And we will not take any money out of this project until it is successful for this city," said Brooks. Tim Newman promises the NASCAR Hall of Fame will not need a bailout from the city's general fund.. He says Charlotte-area tourism is starting to rebound - the hotel tax earmarked for the Hall of Fame is up 24 percent over last year.