Council defers action on Fairgrounds speedway lease with Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol asked for deferral because “there are simply not enough meetings left in the current term for the required approval process.”
Bristol Motor Speedway executives have asked Metro Council to defer voting on Fairgrounds Speedway renovations until after the current election.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 4:51 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2023 at 4:52 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Council deferred a bill to approve the plan to renovate the Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway on Tuesday night.

The plan was removed from the Council’s agenda on first reading at the request of Bristol Motor Speedway. All bills must pass three readings to become law, and with the upcoming election, the Metro Council has only two meetings remaining – Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 – to consider the bill unless they call a special meeting.

“We have strong community and Council support, but there are simply not enough meetings left in the current term for the required approval process,” Bristol Motor Speedway President Jerry Caldwell said in a news release. “Rather than push for an additional special-called meeting during an election season, we are asking bill sponsors to defer this proposal until a new mayor and council are in place.

“We look forward to engaging the new council and continuing our dialogue with Fairgrounds neighbors. This agreement would provide the city with an economically viable solution to fulfill its own Metro Charter obligation to maintain the speedway, shift the substantial financial burden currently on taxpayers onto our back, and deliver significant benefits to Fairgrounds neighbors through sound reduction, increased campus parking, and new community spaces.”

The lease partnership that Nashville and Bristol Motor Speedway agreed to would provide significant relief for the taxpayers by shifting $40 million of deferred maintenance and ongoing obligations to Bristol Motor Speedway.

Track renovations include a state-of-the-art sound barrier that along with other changes made by Bristol will reduce overall track auto sounds by 50%. Renovation of the speedway infield will create 400-plus additional parking spaces for the campus to support soccer games, flea markets, and other non-racing events.

Coalition Against Racetrack Expansion President John Spragens said in a statement the proposed racetrack deal was “flawed from the start.”

“We want to thank people from all across Metro for making their voices heard,” Spragens said. “This proposed racetrack deal was flawed from the start. The proposal did not fit the track and the finances did not work. We’re glad everyone involved now has a chance to evaluate what could work for this historic facility.”

Save My Fairgrounds was involved in the original Metro Charter proposal approved to require the fairgrounds to remain in place.

“While we are disappointed that we have run out of time during this council session, we remain supportive of Bristol’s commitment to Nashville and the Fairgrounds Speedway. It is clear that Colby Sledge played political games and chose to avoid a vote on the proposal, effectively running out the clock. This was further compounded when Council member At-Large Bob Mendes took to Twitter to declare the project dead because of Colby’s actions. Fortunately, this obstruction is only a temporary setback, and these two council members are term-limited and will not return next session.”