Sunday, November 11, 2007
TV Networks Would Love The Banquets In Las Vegas
As we get down to the end of the season, one question keeps popping-up in The Daly Planet email over-and-over again. What happened to the three Championship Banquets?
How did things get this way? The Cup gang parades to New York City, where absolutely no one cares about NASCAR and the sting of Staten Island overwhelmingly rejecting a new track is still fresh in the minds of NASCAR fans.
The Busch Series drives up the road from Homestead to the Portofino Hotel in Orlando to have a banquet among the Universal Orlando theme park tourists covered in sun block and toting handi-cams.
Finally, the poor Truck Series gets to swing-by the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida and gamble with the Seminole Indians while they hold their banquet in a big conference room next to the highway.
Think about that one. The best series by far this season has been the Trucks. Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, Mike Bliss, Rick Crawford and tons of Cup drivers like Mark Martin, Ken Schrader, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick have made this season an absolute blast. Now, their reward is a non-televised banquet in a conference room at the infamous Anna Nicole Smith hotel.
Has anybody out there ever been to Las Vegas? I have. Has anybody been to a big conference or function in Las Vegas? I have. Does anybody know that Las Vegas has over one hundred and forty thousand hotel rooms? I do. Does anyone think that drivers and teams would like to jump on a plane, go to Las Vegas, and have a couple of days of banquets and functions for all three national touring series of NASCAR? I certainly do.
While Charlotte, NC is absolutely the right choice for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it should not even be in the running for the year-end banquets for all three series. There is only one choice of a city that can work to get prepared, handle the fun and chaos of both the NASCAR teams and the NASCAR fans, and then send them home happy. That choice is Las Vegas.
When TV viewers watch the CMA Awards, the Emmy Awards, and even the MTV Music Awards, they tune-in to see a variety of things happen. First, they like to see people out of their normal environment. Second, they like to see the fashion and styles of the day reflected on these high-profile individuals. Finally, they want to see how they interact with each other to get a better feeling about who these people really are.
Television and the Internet can absolutely be the driving forces behind a Las Vegas "NASCAR fan fest" that could easily become one of the hottest tourist weeks that city has ever seen. By allowing the NASCAR television partners to become part of this effort, the sport could finally salvage this part of the season which has become a complete mess.
The best part of putting all three banquets in Las Vegas at the same time would be to allow the drivers who have raced in more than one series to participate in the year-end functions for those series. Simply by being in the same place, at the same time, there would be a synergy for fans and sponsors that simply does not exist at the Hard Rock Hotel in Florida by the highway.
Las Vegas has outstanding TV, Radio, and Internet facilities for getting this multi-day experience out to the public and making them a part of it. Finally, there would be an "investment" in the fans from a sport with four dollar bottled water and six dollar hamburgers.
By making a commitment to Las Vegas right now for 2008, it would allow a professional team of planners to get busy. The TV networks, the other NASCAR media partners, the team sponsors, and the sanctioning body would finally have a group of professionals that could cap-off the season in style and on live national television.
The single issue standing in the way is NASCAR. This banquet has long been kept under control by NASCAR VP Jim Hunter and his staff in exactly the same way then run the Infield Media Center at the tracks. Everything is credentialed, planned, and the "media leash" is kept nice and tight.
Now that NASCAR veteran Paul Brooks has been appointed to head the new NASCAR Media Group, his department can take the three banquets and treat them like the wonderful opportunity for additional exposure for the sport that they always should have been. The resources that Las Vegas can bring to the table can just put that over the top.
By coordinating the TV networks, NASCAR Images, NASCAR Digital Entertainment and the many NASCAR sponsors, this Las Vegas project could grow into something that becomes just as much of a landmark on the NASCAR scene as the Daytona 500.
Imagine the musical acts and artists associated with NASCAR who would come to play this "gig." Imagine the hundreds of transporters and race cars stretched out at the Convention Center. Imagine the fun of being in a place where TV shows were everywhere and they wanted to you participate. Imagine having fun again with NASCAR and ending the season on a high note.
Right before the weary teams go on vacation, a coordinated opportunity to see everyone in the sport one last time before the break would be fantastic. In one place, over just a couple of days, all the end-of-season business would be done and the closing bell would sound officially on ten months of racing.
As a NASCAR fan who has been put-off by the high cost of hotel rooms, skyrocketing race ticket prices, and huge crowds of "party fans" at the tracks, I would welcome an opportunity to combine a Las Vegas vacation with the ability to attend fun and casual functions unique to the "NASCAR Week In Las Vegas."
The time is right now to make a change. The best place to announce this change would be Homestead, while all the NASCAR media is still assembled. Before we see the cold drivers parading once again in the snowy streets of NYC while confused commuters scramble for their subways, it would be nice to know this time in New York is going to be the last.
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