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Driving Sponsor Sales Is Up Next for NASCAR Hall of Fame

Source: Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal   

May 16, 2008

The race for revenue is on at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The tourism authority in charge of promoting and operating the $157 million project has set an ambitious agenda to generate millions of dollars in sponsorship sales and fan support long before the doors open in early 2010. This week, officials at the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority outlined a set of goals for reaching those benchmarks by July 2009. Hospitality taxes on hotel rooms account for the majority of financing for the construction of the hall of fame.

Raising sponsor dollars now will help CRVA pay off a $21.5 million loan from Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. while also affording the NASCAR museum a chance to invest more in exhibits. Exact figures have yet to be determined, but the CRVA wants to raise at least half of the projected sponsorship revenue by July 2009. The program includes a target of $4 million to be generated by the sale of commemorative bricks to fans.

CRVA has hired industry consultant Just Marketing Inc. to handle sponsorship sales. The strategy includes landing eight major corporate partners while also selling an undetermined number of smaller sponsorships. A specific sponsorship goal should be in place this summer, organizers say.

Prices for the commemorative bricks, to be located along the hall of fame's plaza, will also be set in the next couple of months. Selling personalized bricks to fans has become common at stadiums and arenas across professional and college sports in recent years.

"We feel good about where we are on the hall of fame," says Tim Newman, CRVA chief executive. He expects commemorative hall of fame bricks to go on sale this fall, likely around the October race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The hall of fame will be operated by Newman's agency but owned by the city of Charlotte. The city is presiding over construction, which is under way next to the convention center uptown.

Plans for promoting the hall of fame are also taking shape. Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, says a traveling mini-exhibit is slated to roll out in time for the 2009 Daytona 500 in February. It will visit races within a 700-mile radius as well as county fairs and festivals in anticipation of the hall opening. Kelley says requests for proposals for the hall of fame caravan will be issued later this year.