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More cuts coming for NASCAR hall?

- sharrison@charlotteobserver.com
Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2011

Attendance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame fell nearly 40 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, a development that could bring more cost-cutting to the city-owned hall.

Unofficial numbers released Wednesday showed 17,604 people visited the hall in June, compared with 28,678 people in June 2011.

Second-year attendance declines for attractions such as the hall aren't unusual, as initial excitment wears off.

But the hall's budget for fiscal year 2012 calls for admissions from ticket revenue to increase by nearly 20 percent.

Attendance in May was also down compared with the same month in 2010. Last year, 35,979 people attended the hall during the 21 days it was open. This year 25,034 people came during the entire month of May.

If those attendance declines continue the hall could face a multi-million dollar loss for the current budget year.

The hall closed its first full fiscal year with a loss of $1.28 million. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which manages the hall, covered that deficit from its reserves.

The CRVA has been emphasizing the hall's economic impact to the region. It said it has been critical in attracting 121 conventions and meetings in the future, and that its out-of-town visitors spent $40 million on hotels, food and other items.

The hall has said its budgeted ticket revenue increase was a "stretch" goal, and that budget adjustments could be made if the higher ticket revenue didn't pan out.

Hall spokesperson Kimberly Meesters said the fiscal year has just begun, and there has been no talk of budget cuts. She said new strategies to attract groups, corporations and general admission ticket sales are just starting.

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