Updated: May 21, 2013 1:01 PM EDT
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
NASCAR mogul Bruton Smith says there is a strong possibility that he will move the Bank of America 500 out of Charlotte, but a source told WBTV the move is “a done deal.”
NASCAR mogul Bruton Smith says he may move one of the Sprint Cup Series races away from Charlotte Motor Speedway, if the money is right and the numbers seem to back up his claim.
Smith told WBTV’s Paul Cameron that he’s 70% sure he’s going to move the Bank of America 500 away from Charlotte and host it at his Las Vegas track. The BoA 500 is currently held in October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I know you’re not gonna cut this one out, but I’ve been having some strong conversations about one of these events being moved,” Smith told WBTV’s Paul Cameron in an exclusive interview. “And Las Vegas is a great place – it’s the entertainment capital of the world – and they want another event.”
When asked about getting permission from NASCAR to move the race, Smith replied “I know they would approve this.”
Smith said he thought he could make more money at a race in Las Vegas versus having a race in Charlotte.
“Plus, we’re discussing a ten-year contract for a lot of money every year,” he told WBTV.
According to Smith, money plays a huge factor in his possible move. He says a lot of the hotel/casinos in Las Vegas would love to have the race there, because race fans would fill up the hotels.
“You’ve got 150,000 rooms out there, more than any city in the world,” he said. “And they want to fill up those hotels, and we do fill’em up. That’s good.”
And the attendance numbers appear to back up Smith’s claims.
According to Jayski.com, attendance numbers at the one race hosted at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway are higher than any of Charlotte’s three Sprint Cup races since 2010.
The only Sprint Cup race that is currently held on the LVMS is the Kobalt Tools 400, which is held in early March. In the past three race seasons, it has averaged more than 150,000 fans in attendance.
The highest attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway in that same time was 145,000 at the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 race.
Charlotte’s fall race, the Bank of America 500, has seen a nearly 65,000 fan decline since 2007, according to records, while Las Vegas has lost less than 10% of that.
NASCAR as a whole has seen a decline in race attendance in recent years.
According to Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI)’s yearly report, the company has been plagued by declining attendance – a 38% drop in the past five years.
That attendance drop has resulted in a $72-million drop in attendance revenue since 2008.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway races outperformed four of Smith’s other seven tracks in 2012.
“When the game is over, it’ll be money, money, money. Money will move it,” Smith told WBTV.
Smith played a major role in getting NASCAR to move the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards from New York to Las Vegas five years ago.
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