What About Bringing NASCAR to the Racetrack in Mays Landing?
An idea pops-up every once and a while -- what if a NASCAR track was built at the Atlantic City Racetrack in Mays Landing?
Within the past couple of weeks, published reports say an agreement has been reached between Hamilton Township and Greenwood ACRA, the owners of the long-closed Atlantic City Racetrack, to work on plans to redevelop the 250 acres of land that the old track sits on. And with that news, the idea of building a NASCAR track there is, again, being kicked-around on social media sites.
First things first -- I think we can all agree that while we would all enjoy the tax benefits of more stores flooding that area of Mays Landing, the last thing we need are more stores and strip malls. There's no shortage of empty space inside Hamilton Mall, the old Toys R Us and Office Depot stores across the Black Horse Pike remain vacant, and a huge lot was recently cleared just down the Pike for even more potential stores.
So let's discuss the idea of building a NASCAR track there.
For starters, the Atlantic City Race Course sits on 250 acres. The horse track is 1 ⅛ miles in length and 100 feet wide (thank you, Wikipedia). Dover International Speedway, one of the closest NASCAR tracks to us, sits on 800 acres, according to their site. That plot of land in Mays Landing might not really be big enough for a car racing track, grandstands, and the facilities needed to operate it. And if you wanted more adjacent land, the Hamilton Mall sits on about 104 acres, so while the mall is big, it's not a ton of land, relatively speaking. Maybe you could squeeze a short track in there (think Bristol)? Maybe that's possible?
Again using Dover for comparison purposes, that track seats about 90,000 people. Given NASCAR's attendance issues of the past several years, let's assume what we'll call Mays Landing International Speedway will draw a crowd of 50,000 people a once or twice per year. Assuming two people per car (for the sake of simple math), that's an influx of 25,000 vehicles that need to get in and out of the area around the mall. Where do you park 25,000 cars?
Actually, the answer to that part of the equation might not be all that difficult. Having been to several races at Daytona International Speedway over the years, NASCAR fans don't mind parking far away and walking. It wouldn't be out of the question for people to park down by the English Creek ShopRite and either walk to the track or use shuttle buses or something. And getting 25,000 vehicles in and out using Exits 9, 12, and 14 on the Atlantic City Expressway might not be that bad, either.
So, is bringing NASCAR to Mays Landing a smart use of prime real estate? The idea of bringing something really unique to that area does seem interesting, but what's the long term demand for NASCAR races? Will NASCAR become popular again like it was several years ago? Since a major league team won't be setting-up shop in South Jersey anytime soon - and since our record of minor league teams in Atlantic City isn't great at all - is this a foot in the door to bring a major sport into our area? Is that what this area wants or needs? Will bringing thousands of fans into South Jersey be a big boom for the casinos? Perhaps it's worth a real discussion. It's certainly not the weirdest idea we've ever heard.