Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, which once boasted some of the largest crowds to see NASCAR races, will see its seating capacity reduced to approximately 80,000 seats by next season, tracks officials confirmed on Wednesday.
The largest change will come from the recent demolition of the Allison Grandstands, a large swath of seats located on the backstretch of the 2.66-mile speedway which had a seating capacity this season of 18,000.
In recent seasons, many of the track’s frontstretch seats have been tarped over while the speedway still sold tickets – usually at lower price – for the backstretch.
“The changes are simply a reflection of our current attendance trends,” track spokesman Russell Branham told the Observer. “The goal will be a better fan experience and that will be entirely on the frontstretch from now on.”
As recently as 2007, track attendance estimates had more than 307,000 fans attending Talladega’s two Sprint Cup Series race weekends. At the time, the track’s listed capacity was 147,000 grandstand seats. This season, the track’s listed capacity was listed at 109,000.
In the coming months, Talladega will make several additional improvements to the frontstretch, including better sightlines and upgrades to its Sprint Vision capabilities – the portable giant TVs which provide closeups and replays to fans in attendance.
While the grandstands named after the Allison family are gone, the track will unveil a special tribute to the family and the “Alabama Gang” in the coming months.
“The Allison family and Alabama Gang have always been a part of our Talladega family and they always will,” Branham said.
The move by Talladega and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., is the latest by several tracks to reduce capacity while also improving the fan experience for those in attendance.
Daytona International Speedway is currently in the midst of a two-year renovation project which will reduce capacity and vastly improve the comforts of its primary frontstretch seating area. Other tracks, such as Phoenix, have reduced capacity in recent seasons because of attendance declines.
In other track news on Wednesday, NASCAR announced it had purchased Iowa Speedway, an .875-mile short track located in Newton, Iowa, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Iowa Speedway LLC.
The track is scheduled to host races in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Nationwide and Trucks series in 2014.
“Iowa Speedway is a great entertainment facility with a very bright future,” said Eric Nyquist, NASCAR’s vice president of strategic development. “The facility has the support of the region, it’s positioned well in the heart of the Midwest, and year in and year out it provides great short-track racing action for motorsports fans.”