In Georgia, there aren’t many venues more popular than the legendary Atlanta Motor Speedway. Since its opening in 1960, this racetrack has hosted numerous NASCAR events, with its 71,000 seating capacity being barely enough at times. On Monday, Ed Clark, the president of the venue, revealed a plan to add a casino along with a 700-room hotel. According to reports, the proposed structures would be adjacent to the track.
With Illinois getting all the press these last few days, it’s refreshing to see other states embodying a competitive spirit and wanting to enter the highest echelons of the gaming industry. In addition to the initially proposed hotel and casino, Clark has also mentioned plans for condominiums, a water park and several other buildings that could realistically be built in the area surrounding the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
When it comes to casino proposals, it’s almost always a game of cat and mouse. Operators and investors “flex” the potential tax revenue and other earnings for the state, while local legislators counter such ambitious promises with concerns about additional costs, law enforcement financing and other topics closely tied to the topic of economy. In this case, Clark has envisioned the new casino as a family-friendly facility, just to be able to convince Georgian legislators more easily.
Upon looking at the proposal, it does seem more family friendly than your usual casino project. In addition to a 700-room hotel and a casino with 85,000 sq ft of gaming space, the Speedway could also get a 75,000 sq ft convention center, along with a ten-screen cinema and an e-sports arena with an additional entertainment venue. However, that’s not the whole idea. According to FOX 5 Atlanta, Clark also envisioned a multi-level golf course, more than ten restaurants and a condominium complex with approximately 400 housing units. If that’s not enough for you, then you’ll be delighted to hear that the plan also includes a water park and a shopping mall.
Currently, Clark and his partners are in negotiations with legislators, but industry experts predict that the deal is “too sweet to reject”. There are just too many benefits and incentives for Georgia not to consider the plan as a viable one. Depending on the preferences of each side, there might be some changes, but to a lesser extent.
Don’t Forget the Existing Fan Base
One big advantage that the Atlanta Motor Speedway already has is the abundance of spectators who come to watch NASCAR events or attend the Georgia State Fair. Keep in mind that most new casinos in rural areas are built from scratch, without any previous reasons for people to venture into the area. With the ability to house tens of thousands of people, this legendary race track could easily serve as a magnet for visitors who would then partake in other activities around the Speedway.
In addition to all the facilities he had previously envisioned, Ed Clark also mentioned that there are also plans for a nightclub and a 11,000-seat concert hall. No matter how elaborate this plan is, legislators will definitely be impressed by its “family-friendly” character. It’s easy to turn down a proposal that includes only a casino, but this amount of entertainment, combined with the potential revenue, just might be an offer Georgia’s legislators can’t afford to refuse.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway reached out to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, who already have extensive experience operating gaming venues. They’re the organization behind the massively popular Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. While success isn’t a guarantee, having a reputable operator as a partner will do wonders for Clark’s proposed venture.
What’s Stopping Them?
Legislation, as always. Georgia has one of the most conservative electorates in the country, who are reluctant to approve a pending constitutional amendment which would legalize gambling in casinos. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle for both the Speedway and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
However, Clark is not discouraged and claims that this project will result in the state earning more than $1 billion during the construction phase alone. Furthermore, he also mentioned that all the venues together would result in 5,000 full-time jobs for the local population.