Fans expect more when they view sports at a venue. After all, they could just stay home and watch the competition on a 40-inch screen from a comfortable couch. In order to compete, older historic venues have been demolished or remodeled. Old Yankee Stadium gave way to New Yankee Stadium. The 49ers left Candlestick for technology-packed Levi’s Stadium. Even historical landmarks such as Fenway Park and Soldier Field have been retrofitted. A similar venue update is currently underway at Daytona International Speedway, with the “Daytona Rising” redevelopment. A series of television spots this weekend have attempted to capitalize on the history of the raceway by reminding fans that this is their last chance to experience “old” Daytona.
The nostalgic “From Where I Sit” campaign features an ideal pitchman in Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Dale Earnhardt Junior fits the spot because he bridges historic to new,” said Joie Chitwood, President of Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt Jr.’s appeal is important, as change can often lead to backlash. In order to ease the transition, the spots are focused on merging the past, present and future; Chitwood explained they are designed to “appreciate everything that got us to this day. The racetrack isn’t changing, the venue is just changing. It is about paying respect to the past, and how it got us to today.”
Daytona Rising will include five expanded and redesigned entrances, or “injectors,” to lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators that connect them to three different concourse levels. Each level will feature spacious social areas, or “neighborhoods,” along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. At the conclusion of the redevelopment, DIS will have approximately 101,000 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands.
This redesign could also make Daytona multipurpose, with rumors of plans to hold other events such as football games. “By remodeling the venue we can look at other activities. Adding more content could change Daytona from the world center of racing to the world center of sports,” said Chitwood.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.