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City Gives NASCAR Hall of Fame Tour

Source: Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal   

February 17, 2009

Work on the $195 million NASCAR Hall of Fame is 60 percent complete and on schedule for a spring 2010 opening, the city’s project manager said Tuesday during a tour of the construction site.

Eric Bilsky, project manager on the hall of fame for the city of Charlotte, says contractor Turner BE&K Davis remains on budget. In September, costs increased by 20 percent, or $32 million, as the hall of fame’s operator, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, requested and won City Council approval for money to upgrade planned exhibits and add architectural flourishes.

Tuesday’s tour came amid scaffolding, girders and 400 construction workers scrambling to maintain the construction pace. Most of the roof has been applied and, in the months ahead, substantive interior work will begin. By fall, exhibit installation should begin, Bilsky says. In May 2010, the hall of fame opens with the inaugural induction ceremony.

“We’re building this to help the economy,” Mayor Pat McCrory said moments before raising the ceremonial beam as part of a topping out ceremony at the Second Ward construction site. “That was always the goal.”

McCrory expects the hall of fame to bolster the city’s ailing tourism sector while cementing the region as the hub for NASCAR teams and related businesses. More than 60,000 people in the region work in the tourism sector, an industry crippled by reduced corporate and lesiure travel during the past year.

Workers broke ground on the 130,000-square-foot hall of fame in January 2007. An adjoining, 40,000-square-foot convention center ballroom is also under construction on the same site. An adjacent tract houses the 20-story, $90 million NASCAR Plaza office tower. It opens in May.

Bilsky describes the hall of fame construction work as well-coordinated and without surprises. With the roof nearly complete, weather will no longer be a factor, he adds.

NASCAR executives at the ceremony praise the city for its commitment to the sport.

“It’s a monumental day for the hall of fame,” says Paul Brooks, NASCAR senior vice president. “It’s a unique building because on the first day it opens, it becomes an historical building. After years of looking at plans and renderings, it really is amazing to see it now.”