IMS: State Aid Could Unlock Door to Lights, High Tech Gadgetry for Fans
No final decisions on specifics of projected $70M improvement package
(photo courtesy INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Items from redesigned restrooms to driver's eye video feeds for fans are on the drawing board if the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gets the money it wants from the legislature.
The Speedway is asking for five-million dollars to be raised by letting it recapture taxes collected on the property -- the same stratagem that helped build Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis. Mark Miles, CEO of Speedway owner Hulman and Company, says the track hasn't made final decisions on what would go into an anticipated $70 million improvement package.
But Miles says the goal is to enhance the fan experience. That umbrella covers everything from low-tech improvements to restrooms and parking, to high-tech means of following a race, perhaps in the form of high-definition video screens or an LED upgrade to the scoring tower.
Upgrades could go even further, to high-tech interfaces that could give fans in the grandstand a driver's view of the track from a car-mounted camera. Miles says the technology to create that feed exists, but hasn't progressed to the point where it can be delivered to iPads or other devices in the stands.
The Speedway is also considering lights. Miles says the 500 would not run at night, but it's possible the Brickyard 400 would. A nighttime race would mean less summer heat, but Miles notes any such change would have to be cleared by NASCAR and the series' broadcast partners.
The tax recapture bill goes before a Senate committee on Thursday. It's the first time in the Speedway's 100-year history that it has sought state financial assistance. Miles says the age of the track means improvements will have to be made, but says without state help, those projects will have to be delayed. He argues the Speedway should be treated no differently from other businesses which receive state incentives when they create jobs.
The Speedway says it's directly responsible for 6,000 jobs in Indiana, with the broader motorsports industry creating 17,000 more.
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