I understand why the museum was built in Charlotte. I really do. But they made a mistake, and should have looked at Florida.
Building the Hall of Fame in Charlotte speaks to the sport’s identity crisis, I think. On one hand they desperately want to please the original (and rabid) fanbase, but on the other they want to grow into America’s premier sports entertainment, and possibly even take the sport international, if not cater to an international audience
Here’s my pitch: building the museum in Charlotte only speaks to the former, and virtually cuts their hopes of growing the sport off at the knees. I have no doubt that Charlotte is a thriving metropolitan area with its own great sense of culture and history, but the culture and history that’s stored between the walls of that museum will never reach a large audience simply because Charlotte doesn’t seem to be a year round tourist destination.
NASCAR, like other sports (but maybe even more so) simply thrives on that sense of history, and gives people a place to develop their love and fascination for the sport.
If the museum had been built, in say, the Orlando area, the sheer force of tourist traffic would increase the number of visitors by default. Also, and most obviously, NASCAR’s biggest race is just about an hour from downtown Orlando.
Admittedly, if the museum were in Florida I could actually visit the damn thing most anytime, which makes this more of a pointless, selfish plea, than anything else.
But I consider myself slightly more than a casual fan - I see a race each year, play fantasy, named my cat Little Smoke, pay attention to each race in some fashion - so, really, I don’t even need to go to the museum to stoke the flames of my Tony love.
The museum, to me, is for people on the opposite ends of that spectrum, rabid loyalists and true newbies, and putting it in Charlotte only helps half of that equation.
NASCAR needs to find a balance. They need the stock car crazies to lead the way for the newbies, not isolate the two groups, and what better place for those two groups to interact than at a track, and of course, at the museum.
NASCAR is probably the most accessible of all of America’s big time sports. The museum? Not so much.
(Also, Happy 4th to everyone. Hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday.)