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Making NASCAR Hall the Center of Attention

Source: Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal   

February 15, 2008

The 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday marks the start of the NASCAR season. In Charlotte, the increasing emphasis on racing-related tourism will gain momentum in the coming months as construction continues on the $158.5 million NASCAR Hall of Fame and convention center ballroom expansion. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority will own and operate the uptown museum, slated to open in early 2010.

Visitors authority Chief Executive Tim Newman, who is attending the race in Daytona to meet with industry executives, recently discussed NASCAR and its impact with the Charlotte Business Journal. Following are excerpts:

Will you be promoting the hall of fame this year on the NASCAR circuit?

Right now, the main promotional elements are the Web site and apparel that is being sold at the NASCAR Shop at the Charlotte airport. Mobile marketing and brick-paver programs, things of that nature, are all being developed this season. The timelines are not yet set. We're not focused as much on marketing as we are on exhibit design, keeping the building on time and on budget. The exhibit design is key to what you try to market.

Would a mobile marketing national campaign then begin in 2009?

Correct. How prevalent and what it looks like are going to be developed over the course of this year so that the tour would be done during 2009 leading into a 2010 opening. We're looking at a variety of options for doing that.

With the hall of fame seeking corporate sponsorships, how much concern do you have over the slowing economic conditions?

As we are now talking with those folks we hope to have involved, the uniqueness of this asset and the opportunity to be in front of a large number of loyal fans will be strong selling points.

There may be some economic impact, but we're not as concerned about that as if we were trying to sell a product off the floor in 2008.

How are you using the hall of fame to attract conventions and other events?

It's an integral part of the sale. We'll have a ballroom large enough to seat 2,500 people, which has been a big issue, and we will have an amenity on site that adds to the attractiveness of the convention center.

A lot of people who previously wondered, "What are we going to do if we book a convention in Charlotte?" are starting to know about the hall of fame. Increasingly, they're starting to know about the whitewater center, the Billy Graham Library and the Wachovia cultural campus.