What does a sports franchise do when it’s determined their venue needs substantial improvements?
Sports fans in Phoenix are familiar with that subject. Many times, taxpayers are asked to foot the bill. Other times, battles over improvements can drag into the court system.
Phoenix International Raceway doesn’t have such issues.
The 53-year-old venue in Avondale is undergoing a massive $178 million-dollar facelift, and it’s all paid for.
“We own the venue, it’s privately owned,” PIR president Bryan Sperber told Doug and Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM as part of Newsmakers Week. “The $178 million is coming from our parent company, which is based in Florida.”
The parent company, International Speedway Corporation (ISC), green-lighted the project, which will completely change the fan experience at PIR, according to Sperber.
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“We’re going to touch every part of the venue, except the racetrack,” Sperber said, pointing out the track itself was re-paved five years ago, and the results have been positive.
“Every other part of the venue will be touched. Grandstand seating, suites, etcetera,” he continued. “A brand new midway, a new tunnel that will connect the midway to the infield. We’re going to level the infield and rebuild a fan zone including a real leading-edge experience with the NASCAR garage.”
Fans will get to interact with the different teams and drivers and get a unique perspective.
“We’re really excited about this new fan zone, and I think the fans will get a kick out of it,” Sperber said. “No other track on the circuit will have that, so we’re really proud of what we’re going to build.”
Sperber said somewhere between $50-$65 million will be allotted to the infield project.
Another part of the renovation will include moving the start-finish line.
“The start-finish line today is on the north side of the racetrack, that’s going to move over to the dog leg,” Sperber said. “Imagine a race coming down to the final laps and the start-finish line is right there with all the dive-bombing and going four and five-wide. It’s going to be wild.”
Work on the project began last week, and will be completed toward the end of 2018.
PIR hosts three weekends of racing this year, starting with the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Camping World 500 in March. There is, of course, the fall NASCAR race in November, and the Phoenix Grand Prix IndyCar Series race in April.
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