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NASCAR Hall of Fame attendance projections lowered

According to estimates released Wednesday, first-year attendance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame is expected to fall to as much as half of original projections.

For fiscal 2011, between 250,000 to 400,000 people are expected to visit the hall of fame. In the years leading to the hall’s May 11 grand opening, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority projected attendance for the first year would be between 600,000 and 800,000.

In documents released Wednesday, the CRVA said the earlier estimates were based on a stronger economy, popularity of the sport and an extensive market analysis.  The initial projections were also based on first-year attendance at other entertainment attractions, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn., and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

CRVA officials said their earlier estimates were validated in June 2007 by an extensive market analysis performed by industry expert Dean Sharits, who projected that 831,000 people would visit the hall of fame. But in July 2009, Rodd Rankin, an expert in entertainment operations, issued a new estimate of 692,000, citing the sluggish economy.

In terms of revenue and expenses, the hall’s budget for fiscal 2011 calls for revenue of $16 million, whereas at the current rate of attendance revenue is expected to be closer to $9 million at the low end and $12 million at the high end.

CRVA officials said they have identified $2.5 million to $3 million that can be cut from the budget to address monthly losses. The CRVA also said the hall of fame has promotional activities planned through end of the year to help generate interest, including TV and radio ads and sneak-peek tours.

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