Large venues that don’t hold multiple events tend aren’t cost effective. That is why the Virginia Tech v. Tennessee match-up at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee is a sign of things to come. Simply look around at how much money is being spent to improve existing venues, and it makes sense that more stadiums and raceways are battling for events.
Bristol Motor Speedway is a NASCAR short track with a capacity of 160,000. That is bigger than any college football stadium in the country. With its location on the Tennessee/Virginia border, it is in a perfect spot to host the Hokies v. The Volunteers. The game will be held on the infield — normally populated by race fans — and it will be the first of its kind held at the track.
This matters because a lot of stadiums and venues are looking to increase usage. The more games, races, contests, and events that are held at the stadium means more fans and more eyeballs. It means greater concessionary sales and revenues. It means more fans watching on TV. That leads to great sponsorship sales and exposure. It is all a play to leverage the venue to generate more money. It’s a very simple idea of the more things that happen, the more owners and venue operators can make.
This is just the beginning. Daytona Rising was an full refurbishment of the historic Daytona International Speedway. There is no reason Daytona couldn’t host a football game, especially since its new amenities will draw fans from around the country. This isn’t just a raceway phenomenon. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have started to host concert series. What started as one big-name concert per year, has now turned into a series of games. Fenway Park is looking to put in retractable walls in the outfield to set up soccer and football games. NFL stadiums already host concerts, and the NHL stadium series, but they are also looking at ways to expand into other sports to generate more from the expensive capital investment that is a new state of the art venue.
So Bristol Motor Speedway gets the first crack. There will probably be some complaints over how far away the field is, but the atmosphere and uniqueness of the venue should make up for that. As sports look to expand into larger venues, raceways could be a perfect option. Imagine a Florida v. Florida State game at Daytona. This is going to be the new normal as long as the game at Bristol goes off without a hitch.