Despite no public funding, major changes are still coming to Daytona International Speedway.
International Speedway Corp., the parent company of Daytona, initially publicized a dramatic facelift for the track in February. The hope was that the Florida legislature would provide public funding and other tax breaks to help offset the costs. However, the legislature did not bring the bill up for vote before adjourning its session in May.
Instead, ISC announced Tuesday it will pay for the project which will cost between $375 and $400 million. The funds will come from the capital expenditure budget that ISC had earmarked for improvements for all of its tracks from 2013-17.
The changes will include an overhaul of the frontstretch grandstands with wider seats, an expanded concourse area, the improvement and expansion of five fan entrances along with additional restrooms. There will also be the creation of 11 "social neighborhoods" measuring the size of a football field, allowing fans to gather and socialize while offering clear sightlines to the 2.5-mile oval.
"We are truly creating history with this unprecedented endeavor," said ISC's Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy. "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."
Most notably, Daytona will eliminate seating on the backstretch and see its capacity reduced from 147,000 to 101,000. The track has the option of adding an additional 24,000 seats if demand requires.
The overhaul will begin July 5, 2013 and is expected to be completed before the running of the 2016 Daytona 500. Track officials say there will be no need to jockey its 2014 schedule to accommodate construction. It is unclear if the project will affect events for the following year.
"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."