Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

July 16, 2007

Fairgrounds Race Track Future in Doubt

A few years ago, when the politicians were lobbying the public to approve the stadium, you’d have thought that Nashville had never been home to professional sports. As usual, motorsports in this city didn’t get any respect. NASCAR held one or two races at the Speedway at the fairgrounds every year from 1957 to 1984. Then in 1984, the Fair Board told NASCAR to shove it.

It wasn’t until 1995 when Bob Harmon got the lease to the track that NASCAR came back, with a Busch Series race and a Truck Series race. The track was a victim of its success; Dover Downs Motorsports bought the lease to the track, and once they had the superspeedway built in Wilson County, they took the races with them.

Now the future of the Fairgrounds track is in doubt. The Fair Board, in their infinite wisdom, asked the public what to do with the property. Apparently, some folks who live near the track actually don’t like the noise. These aren’t folks who’ve been at the site longer than the track; they’ve moved there within the last few years.

They’re also going to hire a consultant to get his recommendation of what to do with the acreage. The ideas run the gamut: build a baseball park, have an art colony, and others too idiotic to mention.

The Fair Board has pretty much created a self-fulfilling prophecy with the track. They don’t give the promoter a long lease, so he has no incentive to improve the facilities. The place gets run down, people stop going, cars stop coming. The one time they did give a promoter a long lease (a 13-year lease broken into two five-year and a three-year lease), he (Bob Harmon) paved the track, installed new, ADA compliant rest rooms, and made other improvements to the facility.

But as I said above, he did too good a job, and once the lease was transferred to Dover, they used the track as a placeholder for their races that were to be moved to the big track. The leaseholder who came after Dover didn’t know what he was doing. The current leaseholder at least has a history of running tracks, and is trying to undo the damage the last one did.

I don’t know what influence the mayor’s office has over the Fair Board; sometimes it seems as if the Fair Board does what it wants, even to the detriment of the Fairgrounds. I’ll be basing a large part of my decision on who to vote for for Mayor based on what I can find out about their plans for the Fairgrounds.

The Tennessean has a good article on this situation, as well as the Nashville Blotter. Maybe we can get enough Nashville residents involved to make a difference.

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