Only Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) president Eddie Gossage can turn an announcement of a seat-reduction plan into a good thing.
In response to the economic recession that has affected most tracks which play host to NASCAR events, TMS is eliminating 21,000 seats on the backstretch – 15% of its inventory — to reduce the seating capacity to 138,000, according to ESPN.
But you didn’t really think racing’s master promoter would leave it at that, did you?
Along with reducing prices on more than 1,000 seats, Gossage announced plans for new RV luxury slots billed as “Burnout Alley,” which will replace the eliminated seating area on the backstretch of the 1.5-mile oval.
The project will cost $2 million to build and take 75 days to complete. The elevated ground will have room for 74 RVs to park facing the backstretch, similar to what Las Vegas Motor Speedway has on its backstretch.
An RV slot, or courtyard, will cost $15,000. Measuring 60 feet by 30 feet, the massive paved area sits over the backstretch seats and includes full service hook-ups for RVs, live TV feeds for races, wireless Internet and a concierge to cater to your every need.
Each RV can entertain up to 10 guests, with patrons receiving pre-race pit passes for the Sprint Cup events, reserved parking and access to the Speedway Club, a nine-story building that overlooks Turn 1.
“Our RV customers have wanted this for a long, long time,” Gossage said. “They’ve seen it at other tracks, but of course, we made it bigger and better, as everything is in Texas.”
While its RV plan isn’t something for the financially strapped fan, TMS has formulated a strategy to make up for the seats it no longer has and wasn’t selling anyway. The 15,000 former backstretch seats sold for $50 each for a maximum of $750,000 in revenue; by comparison, 74 RV boxes at $15,000 each would total $1.1 million.
“Yes, it’s a net gain in revenue,” Gossage said, “but the key thing here is these changes address something for everybody. If the average joe the race fan says the RV price is just outrageous, he can buy the $20 seats on the backstretch. We have addressed three areas that were very important to me.”
“Eventually everyone will get back on their feet [financially],” he said, “but I don’t want any of our fans to have lost interest because they couldn’t come to the races. I want people to remain engaged in the sport.”