The economic issues of recent years have had an impact on NASCAR attendance, and so, multiple tracks on the circuit have reduced their seating capacity to help ease maintenance costs and avoid being criticized for less-than-normal crowds.
You can now add Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway to that list. SMI announced today that 41,000 seats will be removed at Charlotte, while 17,000 seats will be removed at Atlanta.
Charlotte currently hosts two Sprint Cup weekends, one featuring the Coca-Cola 600 in May and another featuring a 500-mile Chase race in October. Atlanta has one Cup weekend, which has been moved to the week after the season-opening Daytona 500.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SMI called the removed seats “low demand” and anticipates using the areas for “premium hospitality, advertising, and other facility purposes.”
The publicly traded SMI also noted that removal of the seats, which should be complete by the first half of 2015, was expected to “result in a fourth quarter 2014 non-cash, pre-tax charge for accelerated depreciation of approximately $23 million.”
It looks like the removal process at Charlotte (which involves seats in Turn 2 and the backstretch) has already begun.
Richard Childress Racing director of research and development Slugger Labbe tweeted this shot to Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass from today’s Goodyear tire test at CMS: