Leading into the track's 30th straight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series sellout next month, Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz announced today the details of a wide-ranging, fan-friendly seat expansion project that will help keep pace for the demand of one of the most coveted tickets in all of sports.
The highlight of the multi-million dollar capital improvement project is the addition of 7,843 seats in a new, state-of-the-art, 18-story structure located in Turn One behind the current Commonwealth Grandstand. The new, three-tiered grandstand will also include a luxurious 700-person, members-only Club for individual fans looking to enjoy a race weekend in style or businesses seeking to entertain clients. The Club will also serve as a unique and trendy place for special events on non-race weekends throughout the year.
The project, which will be completed in time for the track's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series doubleheader weekend in May 2007, also has a fan-friendly flavor to it, as each seat in the new grandstand will be an individual chair with arm rests. Additionally, in response to the thousands of requests by fans over the years, workers will remove a total of 2,911 obstructed view seats in two different grandstands: the first eight rows of obstructed view seats in each section of the Old Dominion grandstand (Turn three) and the first ten rows of the "A" and "B" sections of the Colonial grandstand (Turn four). Those seats were originally built during the 1988 expansion and track reconfiguration project.
In total the project will net 4,932 additional seats, raising the capacity to 112,029:
[107,097 (current capacity) + 7,843 (new grandstand seats) minus 2,911 (removal of obstructed view seats) = 112,029]
"The fans have spoken and we have responded," said Fritz. "Comfort and sightlines are two issues our fans tell us are extremely important to them. I am extremely pleased that ISC (parent company International Speedway Corporation) has provided us the opportunity to add a significant number of seats so more fans can enjoy the best short track action in the sport. The removal of the obstructed view seats in the Old Dominion and Colonial Grandstands will also enhance the experience for our fans. I am extremely pleased that the additions and changes you will see at Richmond International Raceway for 2007 will be a direct result of the input from our fans, who are the most loyal in the sport."
The new grandstand will be comprised of three separate levels, the Commonwealth Mezzanine, the Club Level and the Commonwealth Tower. The 180-foot structure will be twice as high as the current grandstand and will become one of the tallest structures in the Greater Richmond Metropolitan Area.
Starting today, current ticket holders will begin to receive information in the mail about how to upgrade into the new grandstand. In addition, fans who have been waiting patiently on the track's extensive waiting list will receive information about how to purchase tickets once the upgrade process is completed. Fans who would like to be added to the waiting list can visit www.rir.com or call 1-866-455-RACE (7223) for details.
Richmond International Raceway last added seats for the 2004 season, when a 1,400-seat expansion project increased the track's capacity to 107,097. In the past 19 years, the track's seating capacity has increased 124%, from 50,000 for the September 1988 race, to 112,029 for the 2007 season.
Construction on the new grandstand has begun. Amenities will include six new, ADA-compliant restrooms and five new concession stands.
Key construction milestones include the completion of footings and foundation, (August 31) structure erected (December 31) and seats installed (March 31). The dates are tentative and subject to change due to weather conditions.
The project will also provide a tremendous economic boost to Henrico County and the Greater Richmond Metropolitan
Area. An independent economic impact study conducted around previous expansion projects shows that for every 1,000 seats the track adds, more than $4.3 million is pumped into the area economy. Thus, the project will generate more than $21 million in annual economic impact.
The lead construction and design company for the project is Taylor and Parrish, Inc., while the lead architectural firm is Baskervill. Both companies are located in Richmond. In total, 22 of the 27 contractors working on the project are located in the Greater Richmond Metropolitan Area.
The 2007 season at Richmond International Raceway will include three separate race weekends: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series doubleheaders in May and September and an open wheel weekend in June featuring the IndyCar Series, the USAC Silver Crown Series and the USAC National Sprint Car Series.