Daytona International Speedway to get major overhaul

UNDATED (USA TODAY) -- Daytona International Speedway will push forward with a major redevelopment project despite the Florida legislature's decision not to assist with public funds.

International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona and 12 other NASCAR tracks, announced approval Tuesday for a project that will dramatically overhaul the frontstretch at the "World Center of Racing." The construction will cost between $375 and $400 million and is expected to be completed prior to the 2016 Daytona 500.

The redevelopment primarily focuses on creating a modern look and feel to the aging frontstretch grandstands. In February, Daytona unveiled a "complete reimagining" of the stands, which will appear more like a current NFL stadium with wide concourses featuring themed restaurants and gathering areas, a massive main entrance and the addition of 40 escalators.

When the project is done, Daytona will have reduced its capacity by 46,000 seats to 101,000. The backstretch stands will be removed and wider seats will be installed on the frontstretch.

Lesa France Kennedy, ISC's CEO, said the project would be "truly creating history with this unprecedented endeavor."

"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," she said.

ISC will fund the project from its own pockets and use a majority of the $600 million capital expenditure budget it has for all of its tracks combined over a five-year period from 2013-17. It originally had tried to create a public/private partnership with Florida, but the legislature chose not to bring the tax bill for a vote before its session closed in May.

Daytona said the dates of its races -- including all February Speedweeks activity and the July 4 race week -- will be unaffected next year. It's unclear how construction could affect the track's events beyond next year.

In addition, there will be no capacity change for the 2014 Daytona 500; the capacity decrease "could occur in stages," the track said. Once the capacity is set at 101,000, there would be a potential to add back 24,000 permanent seats if there was ever a demand.

"We will take great care of our loyal existing customers throughout this renovation," ISC President John Saunders said. "They can expect to receive additional direct communication as we proceed with construction."


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