Race Weekend Central

Umm… What Did You Think Was Going To Happen?

Here is a question that has been bugging me for a long time. Why isn’t the NASCAR Hall of Fame fully owned and operated by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (aka, the France Family)?

Two years into its fledgling existence, well… I’ve found the answer. Hey, if you can get someone else to fork up 200 million to build, maintain and operate it, while you get royalties (if it ever makes a profit) by “licensing” it, why not!

Unfortunately for the city of Charlotte, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) and, ultimately John Q. Public, as with most things that bear the NASCAR logo, someone got lied to… big time!

Despite some high-profile inductions the last few years, including Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, and Bud Moore (pictured, left to right) attendance and profit at NASCAR’s Hall of Fame has failed to meet lofty expectations.

As it was recently announced, the NASCAR HoF, owned by the City of Charlotte and operated by the CRVA, posted a 1.42 million dollar loss after it first fiscal year of operation. Now, as most big businesses go, the report of a loss is really not a big deal. I mean in our society, somewhere during the growth of a business, if you do it right and have the right accountants who know not what the term “reality” means, it is perfectly acceptable to run a business and never once post a profit from it.

But here is the biggest kicker of all. Not only did the Hall lose money, it was projected, by one of those accountant types, that it was going to make an 800,000 dollar _profit_ during the same time period! Who the heck was _that_ person or entity? How can you be _that_ far off? They money isn’t the only exaggeration that someone sold someone, though; there’s more! Here is an example, as reported in the “Charlotte Observer”:http://www.thatsracin.com/2011/06/02/64930/hall-wouldnt-mind-hitting-this.html just this past June…

*NASCAR Hall of Fame expects increased attendance:* Next year’s NASCAR Hall of Fame’s draft budget predicts revenue from admissions will increase nearly 20 percent, an optimistic projection that runs counter to the experience of many similar attractions. The Georgia Aquarium, for instance, saw attendance decline 25 percent for its second year, then 15 percent more from year two to year three after the initial excitement wore off. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland showed similar declines in its first three years of operation. Attendance at those venues – and many others – then stabilized. The city-owned NASCAR Hall of Fame projected 800,000 visitors for its first year. Instead, attendance was roughly 274,000, including 12,000 free visits during an open house in January. Before the hall opened last year, hall backers expected attendance to decline from the first year to the second year. The draft budget calls for $4.88 million in admission revenue next fiscal year, while this year’s admissions revenue is expected to be $4.15 million. A memo from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which operates the hall, said the admissions projections are based on a “stretch” target…

Who in the world projected the Hall would receive 800,000 visitors during its first year of operation? Does anyone else find it odd that the projected visitors and the projected profit (800,000) is the same number? Better yet, why is their head not on someone’s platter when the actual number turned out to be “roughly” 274k? What’s even funnier is that’s still a higher number than the NFL Hall of Fame, which churned out 191,943 visitors last year and competitive with the 281,054 people the Baseball Hall of Fame drew in 2010.

So how in the world does NASCAR get off with 800,000? Turns out these fantasy numbers are coming back to bite them, though. Here is the latest projected news about the Hall, “this time from the Charlotte Business Journal…”:http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/queen_city_agenda/2011/09/more-attendance-woes-for-nascar-hall.html

*More attendance woes for NASCAR Hall of Fame:* Attendance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame fell by 35% in July from a year earlier, continuing a trend of declining results. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, operator of the $200 million publicly funded stock-car museum, reported the figures at its board meeting Wednesday. In July 2010, 33,452 people visited the hall of fame. Attendance declined to 21,910 in July 2011, the first month of the new fiscal year. July marked the third month of attendance slips of 30 percent or more in year-over-year comparisons. Those figures offer a barometer of interest in the hall of fame, which opened in May 2010. For May 2011, attendance was 30 percent below the previous year (25,034 visitors compared with 35,090 in May 2010). In June 2011, crowds dropped by 39 percent to 17,604 visitors for the month. Visitors authority board members didn’t discuss the hall of fame results during their meeting. A recent update to City Council included questions and discussion of whether ticket prices could be hurting attendance…

Really!? No one can figure out why? How stupid are “these” people? (“These” people, being direct descendants of the legendary “Them” and or “They!”) What makes them think that a “NASCAR” Hall Of Fame is more special than any other similar venture? Am I the only one left on the planet with common sense? I mean, I’m no freaking genius, but good Lord! Really!??

Despite all these economic woes, NASCAR itself has had a tender heart and has tried to lend a helping hand almost from the start as evidenced by this statement last November…

*NASCAR only said that it won’t make any money from the Hall until it turns an operating profit.* “The key point is we won’t take any money from the project until it’s successful,” said Paul Brooks, a NASCAR Senior Vice President. Under NASCAR’s contract with the city, Charlotte can withhold NASCAR’s royalty payments from the hall if it loses money. NASCAR is allowed to take a cut of 10 percent of all hall revenues.

Oh, in case you are wondering, of the 1.42 million dollar loss suffered by the Hall in its first year…only $979,563 of it is for royalties owed to NASCAR! Well, City of Charlotte, you climbed in the bed with these guys… what did you think was gonna happen?

Stay off the wall,
Jeff Meyer

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