On Wednesday morning, the NFL published a piece that the Tennessee Titans conquered the final piece of the puzzle to get the deal for a new stadium solidified. According to the linked article, “The Metro Nashville City Council finally approved by a 26-12 vote early Wednesday morning on the final reading to allow its sports authority to issue $760 million in bonds. That combines with $500 million in state bonds for $1.2 billion in public financing committed to the Titans’ enclosed stadium.”
The hope is to break ground by mid 2024 to open for the 2027 season.
That could play a role in how the Music City Grand Prix is run. See, the third and final year of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the contract for this race is this season. While both sides would love to continue this deal on past 2023, this new piece to the puzzle could hamper things.
According to the plans that are out there for the public to view, the new Titans stadium is slated to be built on the parking lots between the current stadium now and Interstate 24. That’s exactly where the paddock currently is and where the backside of this track runs.
If this race is to continue on past this current contract, a new layout/design will be needed.
The issue there is, how can they utilize the bridge still? That’s an iconic part of this track and to what makes this event stand out.
I mean the current track is 2.17 miles in length, but the 3,578 foot Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge is what has been talked about more than any other portion of the track.
The bridge runs over the Cumberland River and one of the only tracks in the world that goes over a larger body of water.
“It’s one of those things, it’s a signature thing that everybody thinks about,” said Dario Franchitti. “I think it’s cool. It’s nice to have a signature for the circuit. That’s going to be Nashville’s signature, is that bridge.”
One of the main questions coming into this deal was, can Nashville work past this initial contract? Can they stick out from a field of other past failed endeavors on street courses and become along the lines of Long Beach and St. Pete instead?
This is another bump in the road.
See, putting on street course racing is hard. You do get a lot of support but also get a lot of people not in favor of the road closures in such a highly congested areas. I mean, street course racing is done in big metropolitan areas in order to gain the most exposure. These races are like downtown carnivals in a sense as the series hopes to gain attention for ticket sales of people that normally wouldn’t come to an INDYCAR race but chose to do so because it’s a main attraction in a downtown area.
On the flip side, it costs a lot of money to make these races survive too. Between sanctioning agreements, permits, setup, etc, you better have a lot of backing to pull it off.
You can have droves of fans coming in, but can the revenue outweigh the expenses? Street course racing has a lot of expenses. You have to have everything aligned perfectly to make it stick.
Baltimore showed up in 2011 but was gone after 2013. Houston came in 2013 but was gone after 2014. Boston was going to have a race but it never got off the ground. Same for China. Brazil once had a race but they’ve not been able to make it work to come back. Toronto is now in peril after not being on the schedule for two years.
What all of this means?
It’s extremely hard to make it work for a second contract. The first year is always met with excitement and anticipation. The fight is keeping the levels of these two from dipping year over year. It’s like trying to save your tires over a long green flag run at Darlington. There’s going to be a drop off, it’s natural, but can you minimize the drop off and sustain and good atmosphere?
Most street course races can’t. The attention dies down over the years and the obstacles grow too hard to keep the race around longer than a couple of years.
Will Nashville be any different and follow the steps of Long Beach and St. Pete or will this fall off like Baltimore and Houston?
This deal with the Titans could complicate things.
The series, promoters and everyone involved has done and said the right things. Nashville has been a hit. The reason this could take a hiatus off the schedule is only due to outside factors beyond their control.