Sunday, September 14, 2008
NASCAR Parks The Times Square Parade
NASCAR made the first of what may be several strategic calls in cancelling the Sprint Cup Series "parade" through Times Square in Manhattan this coming December.
It is very clear that the wheels are coming off the greater NYC area where NASCAR and TV sports exposure are concerned. Despite the best intentions of those involved, none of the current NASCAR TV partners have a presence in NYC that makes sense for the sport.
This past week, drivers were run through a whirlwind of TV programs in NYC as an "advancer" for the upcoming Chase for the Championship. It was a disaster. The various TV morning shows had other pressing news issues and the momentary appearance of drivers was often beyond awkward. The biggest morning program, The Today Show on NBC, decided to pass entirely.
While Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon might be able to glide smoothly through NYC, the landscape of media exposure that benefits NASCAR in Manhattan has been shrinking for years. ESPN actually closed the network's Manhattan TV studio. TNT is in Atlanta, GA and the Fox Sports guys are headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.
This may be the first step in turning the banquets of all three of NASCAR's national touring series toward Charlotte, NC. Currently under construction in the downtown area is the NASCAR Hall of Fame that is directly linked to the Charlotte Convention Center.
Despite suggestions from Bruton Smith that Las Vegas should be the Sprint Cup Series banquet location, Charlotte seems to be slowly reeling-in the end-of-season festivities for several reasons. The reason at the top of the list is time.
Daytona testing begins in January and the next time many drivers and teams look-up it is almost Thanksgiving. Between testing and racing, the NASCAR Sprint Cup season in 2009 may be the longest in professional sports.
Charlotte has hosted an NCAA Final Four and other top sports events with no problem. The Convention and Visitors Bureau would love to figure out a way to integrate the NASCAR fans into some activities that could draw additional tourists to the Greater Charlotte area.
It might be a little cold for hot laps at Lowe's Motor Speedway in a Richard Petty Racing Experience car, but with all the NASCAR shops and the Hall of Fame within reach, the possibility of putting the banquets together in Charlotte makes a lot of sense.
Currently, the three banquets are in three different locations. Bringing them to Charlotte would free the team owners from substantial hotel bills and actually let the teams return home after the party in a bus instead of an airplane.
The TV networks hosting the banquet coverage would certainly appreciate the ability to use one set of TV trucks for all three events. The NASCAR Media Group studios will also be located in the Hall of Fame complex giving teams direct access to all kinds of television, radio and Internet access. Sounds like a package deal.
We will keep things up-to-date as last season the TV coverage of the three banquets was the subject of much discussion. The format of the evening, the personalities that host and even the always-interesting comedian and music choices were Internet topics for some time.
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Here are some story links on this issue:
NASCAR "Scraps" NYC Victory Lap
No New York Victory Lap
New Yorkers To NASCAR: Yawn
Chaser's Time Isn't Well Spent In Big Apple