Race Organizers Wheel Out Big Names To Tout Virtues Of Nascar

Posted: Feb. 28, 2013 | 5:58 p.m.

The major leagues of car racing comes to Las Vegas NV next weekend, so race planners rolled out former mayor & NASCAR fan Oscar Goodman along with Las Vegas NV native & big-time racer Kurt Busch Thursday to extoll the economic virtues of hosting a NASCAR race.

Citing Las Vegas NV tourism authority data, Las Vegas NV Motor Speedway authorities asserted last year’s three-day NASCAR race weekend generated $240.6 million in spending in the Las Vegas NV area with 71 % of the fans coming from out of town.

Chris Powell, the speedway’s president, asserted tickets for the main event, the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, are sold to fans from every state & from 25-30 countries. Powell asserted NASCAR Sunday brings in 130,000 fans to the speedway & the visiting fan’s average stay is 3.5 days. It’s NASCAR’s 16th visit to Sin City.

Speedways authorities asserted the Las Vegas NV Convention & Visitors Authority data showed 2012 spending was up $46 million from 2011, when the economic impact was $194.7 million. Race-related spending has increased annually for the past four years.

The 1st NASCAR race in Las Vegas NV generated $116.2 million in 1998, with the low number dropping to $97.1 million in 2001. Organizers asserted the total NASCAR spending in Las Vegas NV is more than $2 billion since 1998.

Powell asserted major fan feeder states are California, Utah & Arizona – & moreover the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota & Iowa.

“A lot of fans have cabin fever & want to get out & go to some place warmer,” Busch asserted at a luncheon press conference at race sponsor Stratosphere.

The uptick in 2012 race spending stems from an increased number of race attendees staying in hotels with increased room rates & fans staying longer in town, LVCVA spokeswoman Courtney Fitzgerald said.

She asserted the total nongaming spending for 112,000 out-of-town NASCAR race visitors was $176.6 million, with the total economic impact (including gaming budget yet not gaming spending) for those visitors hitting the $240 million mark.

Busch asserted the high number of out-of-town fans are evident on the Fridays before the huge Sunday NASCAR race. Busch asserted he’s amazed by the high number of race fans who attend Friday time trials when racers vie for the Sunday pole position.

“This is a destination for race fans,” Busch said.

The fan spending numbers come from surveys of race fans as they enter the gates for the Sunday race, & includes attendee gaming budgets, Fitzgerald said. Out-of-town fans who are surveyed state how much they spend & the per capita spending is multiplied by the number of visitors, she said.

Many sports economists such as the University of Chicago’s Allen Sanderson are skeptical of the economic impact numbers offered by event planners & public agencies. Sanderson asserted he has not seen the NASCAR race data from Las Vegas, yet generally believes the net economic impact of huge events such as NASCAR races is “off by a factor of five to ten.”

Sanderson asserted a lot of the money spent at corporate-owned hotels, restaurants & other businesses leaves the area to headquarters in out-of-region cities.

“A lot of the money exits the area,” he said.

But sponsors such as the Stratosphere asserted the NASCAR weekend is an economic windfall.

“It’s one of the biggest weeks of the year,” asserted Paul Hobson, Stratosphere general manager. “What we get with race fans is in that they eat in restaurants & play in the casinos.”

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.