At a cost of nearly $400 million, the International Speedway Corporation on Tuesday approved funding to redevelop the frontstretch of the Daytona International Speedway.
Groundbreaking is planned for July 5, 2013 after the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR weekend. It is targeted for completion in January 2016, just in time for the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 58th Daytona 500.
“We are truly creating history with this unprecedented endeavor,” said Lesa France Kennedy, ISC’s Chief Executive Officer. “I commend the board’s decision to move forward on our plan to redevelop the Company’s signature motorsports facility, thereby shaping the vision of Daytona for the next 50 years."
The redevelopment of the facility is expected to cost $375 to $400 million.
Construction for the redevelopment project will begin after the 2013 Coke Zero 400 NASCAR weekend, so major races, such as those associated with Budweiser Speedweeks, the Daytona Supercross By Honda, the Daytona 200 and the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, will be held as scheduled.
The emphasis for the redevelopment is on enhancing the fan experience, officials said. There will be five expanded and redesigned fan entrances along International Speedway Boulevard.
"Our fans are still going to have an affordable option to get in," said Joie Chitwood, president of the International Speedway. "They're still going to be allowed to bring their coolers in, and we're still going to offer free parking in lot 7 and lot 10."
Along the mile-long frontstretch will be 11 social "neighborhoods," which will enable fans to meet and socialize during events without missing on-track action because of video screens.
Also, every seat in the Speedway frontstrech will be replaced. Each seat will be wider and more comfortable. At the end of the redevelopment, there will be 101,000 permanent seats.
Fifty-three suites will also be added to the frontstretch, as well as more restrooms and concession stands.
There will be no capacity changes for the 2014 Daytona 500, but the decrease in capacity will occur in stages after its completion.
"I don't think they ought to take the seats out, add more," said Eddie Doss, who is concerned that ticket prices will go up with fewer seats for fans.
All seats in the backstretch grandstand will be moved to the frontstrech by the beginning of the 2016 motorsports season.
“We will take great care of our loyal existing customers throughout this renovation,” said John Saunders, President of ISC. “They can expect to receive additional direct communication as we proceed with construction.”
Some race fans are excited to see how the renovations are going to affect the economy.
"Anything that's going to stimulate the economy, bring in new blood, fresh blood, new business, I think it's going to be great for the economy and great for the local flavor," said Tim Davenport.