ESPN executives toured the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday to see if it would make a good site to host the summer X Games. The X Games is a four-day event of extreme sports such as BMX freestyle, skateboarding and motorbike competitions. Charlotte is one of four cities ESPN is considering to host the games for three years, starting next summer.
Fifteen executives from ESPN toured the facilities at Charlotte Motor Speedway. At the end of the day, NASCAR driver and X Games medal winner, Travis Pastrana, drove them three laps around the track.
One executive, Brad Florian, looked relieved to exit Pastrana’s race car. He's the director of business operations at ESPN.
"I just can't believe you're not … that the tires are holding that you're not just crashing into the wall," Florian says. "It's not what I thought it was going to be."
ESPN not only owns the rights to broadcast X Games. It owns the X Games, which it created in 1995. The other finalists to host the games are Chicago, Detroit and Austin, Texas.
Florian says there's no front runner.
"You know all the other cities also have world-class facilities as well, but this is just like those and you know we're going to do our best to take a look and figure it out."
The Speedway and nearby drag strip are impressive venues for the Games, says Paul DiPietro. He’s head of ESPN’s technical operations.
"You know it's a whole different feeling. Two of them are downtown big cities and the other two are race tracks," DiPietro says. "So it's a whole different feeling. I mean this is a pretty simple … this is … not that you guys haven't done any big shows before, so it makes it real easy for us. So I think it'll be good."
The X Games are expected to attract 100,000 people over four days.
The ESPN executives have already visited Detroit and Chicago. Their next stop is Austin. They plan to announce the host city by the end of the month.