Bruton Smith Is In Charge

Yesterday, Bruton Smith, CEO and majority owner of Speedway Motorsports, Inc, told the city of Concord, North Carolina who’s boss. See articles in Scene Daily, That’s Racin’, ESPN, and FoxSports.

After the city of Concord changed the zoning regulations to specifically stop Smith and SMI from building a drag racing strip next to Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Smith announced he was looking to move the speedway itself unless Concord would remove the offending regulations.

While this may seem trivial to most people, Lowe’s Motor Speedway moving would be a major loss for the city of Concord and it’s coffers. Nascar Nextel Cup race weekends at the track bring in over 200,000 fans twice a year, making the raceway a huge boon for the local economy, somewhere to the tune of $5 billion a year to the state of North Carolina ($3.9 billion to the Charlotte/Concord area alone) according to the UNC-Charlotte Urban Institute. Also, I’d imagine that Lowe’s Motor Speedway has one of the biggest property tax bills in the city of Concord. That’s a hefty chunk of change that Bruton Smith can wave around.

Those involved in economic development have long seen the impact of sports on local economies (of which Nascar arguably has the biggest impact). This showdown in Concord might ultimately show the city just how big an impact this racetrack really has.