ISM Raceway Renovation Update

Bryan: It’s really quite exciting. Even for somebody like me who has been around the sport for so long and.


Bryan: It’s really quite exciting. Even for somebody like me who has been around
the sport for so long and seen so much. Nothing like this I can compare it to. It’s just been an incredible. It’s been emotional at times. It’s been mind-blowing at times and it’ll
all be done and open for the Can-AM 500 in November. Jared: Hey there ALSD, here now with Brian
Sperber. Fresh off of his renovation panel here at
ALSD 2018. Had a few additional questions to add context
to a really spectacular panel. Brian thanks so much for joining us. Brian: Thanks for having me. Jared: It feels like we just did this last
week, but it was a year ago. I’m sure some things have changed, evolved,
things are a little bit different the landscape is a little bit different starting with the
name of your building. I’m wondering if you could catch us up to
speed on how we should address your building and the synergies between you and your new
naming rights partner. Brian: Sure. You know of course for many many years folks
knew us as Phoenix Raceway and we’re really pleased that we’ve now sold the naming rights
to a technology company called ISM Connect. So now the name of the Raceway is ISM Raceway
and it was significant for us for a number of reasons. I think one; the partnership has been able
to bring a lot of attention to the project itself. Just from a backstory, I think that we would
not have been able to secure a great company like ISM Connect it wasn’t for this project
lighting off and that really put us on their on their radar. After the agreement was reached (which is
a long-term agreement with ISM) it really began all of us thinking together collectively
about “how do you bring technology forward into this new venue and introduce new fan
experiences from a technology standpoint?”. We know that we’re building a really great
bricks and mortar environment. Whether it’s the new seats or this infield
project, which I think will be spectacular. All of that is really on point, but could
you complement that with leading-edge technology? Having a company like that’s in the tech space
like ISM will really help us create what I’m calling kind of the 360 fan experience. Where it’s a digital experience that complements
really great bricks and mortar. I couldn’t be happier about the partnership
that we have with ISM Connect. I think the beneficiary of that is really
going to be the fans will be treated to something unique and new. Jared:Last year we spoke about a number of
exciting components to this project. Whether it be grandstand modifications, changes
to the track itself, as well as some really unique things happening in the infield space. I’m wondering if, starting with the infield
space, can you catch us up to speed on the progress of those components what has been
finished to date? What are you driving towards, no pun intended,
driving towards the race in November correct? Bryan: Yes. The whole project will be completed in time
for the November Can-Am 500, which is the semi-final in NASCAR’s playoff. We do have some work to do to get there. The infield is one area of the project that
I’m particularly proud of. Because we’re transforming what really was
a working area “behind the scenes” “back-of-house”. However you want to describe that and it was
an adequate area for the race teams to work at and probably not even adequate for the
media and some of the other functions that the infield needed to deliver. Now I’m really pleased to share with you Jared
that we are in the process of completely transforming that infield into not only being able to address
the working environment in a much more elevated way for race teams and for media etc., but
we’ve also created an entertainment area for race fans. It starts with easy access and that’s a brand
new tunnel that will be opened up connecting the Midway and grandstand area to the infield. Once fans arrive in that infield the first
thing they’re going to notice is they’re not entering a working garage. It’s going to look and feel aesthetically
like an entertainment zone. They’ll see bars. They’ll see restaurants. There’ll be lots of color. There’s certain elements of that infield which
I think are going to be really spectacular. First the fans will be able to see NASCAR
inspection so as the cars are going through they’re going to be able to see the officials
taking them through tech. They’ll be able to go and see the red carpet
as the drivers and celebrities that are attending the events are making their way to the pre-race
driver’s meeting. I think the two cornerstones of the infield
will really be one; the NASCAR garage. That’s been our locker room. It’s always been off-limits to race fans unless
you’re part of a team or an official. What we asked our design team to do is to
figure out “is there a way that we could be able to have race fans enter that garage
area?”. I’m pleased to share with you and the audience
that we’ve been able to crack that code. We’ve created a way for the working garage
to still be able to do all the functions that it needs to do in the environment that they
need to be able to do that in. But the other side of the garage area quite
literally will open up to this new infield fan zone. So race fans will be able to literally walk
into the Monster Energy Cup garage. They’ll be able to see the teams working on
the racecars as they’ve been nosed-in hoods are up. I’ll be able to interact with the race teams,
take selfies, you know whatever you want to do, but they will literally be in our version
of the locker room. The other cornerstone I think of the infield
is Gatorade Victory Lane. Having been a longtime veteran of this sport
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to participate in so many amazing victory lanes, historic
victory lanes, emotional victory lanes. It’s always bothered me deep down that the
race fans have not been able to have that same experience. So we again asked our design team “is there
a way that we can still be consistent in what we need to deliver to the industry and the
media terms of victory lane, but create a way for race fans to come in and share the
excitement?”. We’ve been able to do that. I’m over the moon! I’m so thrilled because I think for the first
time race fans will be able to feel what it’s like to be in victory lane. They’ll only be able to do that at ISM Raceway,
so can’t wait. Jared: Well we share that excitement with
you. There’s a reason why we wanted to bring you
back this year is because this is a really exciting project. Not just for motorsports, but across sports
and entertainment. So we look forward to seeing that just here
in a few months. Was there anything that was completed by the
spring race that we should talk about? Bryan: Yes. This project has been underway now for a year
and a half. Physically in terms of construction of the
pre0process was obviously longer than that. Different elements of the project have been
able to come online and we’ve had to work around events. You know with the pardon our dust signage,
and kind of cordoning off certain areas that were under construction. We’ve had several of the of the elements come
online. I think the one for me that was really exciting
was, well, really two areas. One was what’s now the Dos Equis Curve Club,
which is a really high-end club for about 300 guests. You were here at ALSD talking about luxury
suites so I want to make sure that we mention that. Since I was here last at the conference we’ve
been able to partner with Dos Equis on naming rights for that club. That debuted in November of last year to phenomenal
success . Sold out, and we’re ahead of plan. The fans are just thrilled with the environment. It’s a high-end luxury environment. You feel like you’re entering some Hollywood
or Los Angeles Beverly Hills hotel lobby. It’s just absolutely stunningly gorgeous. Our partnership with Levy is really bringing
the food and beverage to life, and plenty of cold Dos Equis beers to go around as well. That was a huge success that started in November
and they’ve carried through the spring. When we got to the spring race, “Ticket
Guardian 500”, the new Trackside Bar and Brill and the Wheelhouse opened up. The Wheelhouse is a premium ticket for race
fans to add on to their grandstand seat and it’s a hospitality environment with food and
beverage and restrooms. It’s all air-conditioned. We’ve got garage doors on this venue, which
can open up when the weather is great to allow fans to go out into a patio environment with
couches and tables. They’re really able to be feel like they’re
part of the Midway experience, but yet still have that exclusive feel of being in the wheelhouse. Then the Roll-Bar Club it itself is hugely
successful. It was nice to see the fans being able to
migrate. We were able to migrate them out of a temporary
tented environment, which was not you know particularly comfortable, into a beautiful
permanent facility that is climate-controlled. Permanent restrooms, you know those are important. That went over just tremendously successfully
with the with the race fans. Also the new Trackside Bar and Grill that
was replacing a very old venue that we had it needed to be replaced. It was a fan favorite in that was a nighttime
entertainment area that folks that were camping on our property would always love to go to. The place is always jumping into the wee hours
when I’ve long gone to bed and all the old folks are in sleep they would take it deep
into the night. So what we were able to do is transform that
space. We knocked that old building down, but then
we recreated it with Trackside Bar and Grill. Really updated and elevated the physical appearance
of the venue. But again, the creature comforts so it’s permanent
restrooms. It’s a purpose-built bar, great food and beverage
options beautiful patio and that went over to rave reviews by the race fans. I don’t think they knew what to expect when
they first arrived on the property, but by the time the weekend was over Trackside Bar
and Grill had become a fan favorite. The place was back to jumping and being very
very full! The thing that surprised me was, I had a chance
to go there during the race, and that place was full. You have race fans with race tickets and they
love the Trackside Bar and Grill so much that they were leaving their seats to come down
and have some cold beers in the trackside bar. So that was cool. Jared: A lot of that speaks to the social
theme right that’s not necessarily a new phenomenon for our industry. That almost doesn’t matter if it’s new to
your market, your venue, your specific fanbase. Can you continue to talk about their reaction
to being exposed to these new social opportunities and how that has made your venue better and
more likely for them to buy tickets? Bryan: Yeah I mean we’re starting to hear
that during the conference. That’s really being echoed, this trend of
hangout spaces, as one of the panelists described it. You’re right. I mean that it’s a social experience for fans. They want to come and be a part of the event
but they also want to mix and mingle with their friends and make new friends. All those sorts of things. I think Trackside Bar and Grill, the Roll-Bar
at the Wheelhouse, and the Dos Equis Club certainly start to address that at our venue. I think the area that I’m most eager to see
how that plays out will be the new infield, because we can accommodate about 10,000 guests. We’re going to have an incredibly large social
area, a hangout space. The question mark in my mind will be “will
fans that have raced tickets in the grandstand decide to spend their time in the infield? If they do how much time?” It’s going be a little bit of a social experiment
for us to see how this all plays out. But as long as the guests are having fun it
doesn’t matter to me. I’m agnostic in terms of where they want to
hang out as long as they’re with us, and as long as they’re having fun. Jared: You gave us a great reminder of its
timeline for this project. Can you remind us of what the budget is? Bryan: Sure, it’s a hundred seventy eight
million dollars. We’re getting close to being done so we’re
excited! It’s been a fun ride! It’s been really mind-blowing to see all the
new elements of this project literally coming up out of the ground and saying goodbye to
some really outdated assets that we used to have at the venue. Seeing those going away, getting knocked down. Sometimes in spectacular fashion with fireworks
and so forth. It really is a transformation. We’re seeing a brand new facility and it’s
really quite exciting. Even for somebody like me who has been around
the sport for so long and seen so much. Nothing like this I can compare it to. It’s just been an incredible. It’s been emotional at times. It’s been mind-blowing at times and it’ll
all be done and open for the Can-AM 500 in November. Jared: I could probably sit here with you
for the rest of the afternoon and continue the conversation, but I’ll get you out of
here on one last question. This isn’t just about racing, you’ve really
created a multi-purpose facility for yourself which will probably help pay back some of
that money recently spent. Can you tell us some of the events that you’re
targeting and maybe some that you even held already that you’ve got on your calendar and
look forward to adding in future weeks and years? Bryan: Sure. I mean if you look at where we’re located
and the acreage that we have, we’re really uniquely positioned in a market that’s very
desirable for a lot of events and corporate, media partners etc. We’re one of the few facilities in the greater
Phoenix area that can accommodate overnight camping to the tune of tens of thousands of
guests. That’s very unusual in our market. The physical side of our venue really prevented
us from being able to attract a lot of quality events, because it was so reliant on temporary
structures that the cost side of it just got to be where we couldn’t do much. Well now, we have this beautiful sparkling
new venue with a lot of permanent facilities. That has opened the door for us to have those
kinds of conversations with potential partners to bring a variety of new events. Sure, we’re looking at new motorsports events
all the time, but we’ve now entered in the world we’re hosting Tough Mudder. We’re hosting high school proms. We’re actively out looking for cultural events,
culinary events. We’re having discussions right now for multi-day
music shows where again, the camping becomes a key part of that coupled with a brand new
beautiful facility. We finally now can put it all together and
have these kinds of conversations. So I think our calendar is going look really
different in the coming years. Jared: Now are you a chaperone for these proms? Bryan: I can’t take that responsibility. Jared: Not sure that’s the best place to in
the conversation on a comic note! (laughs) But, just to plagiarize your term because
it is perfect “this is not a renovation it’s a transformation”. We really appreciate you spending some time
with us and sharing your story. Bryan: Absolutely thanks for having me!

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