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Charlotte Motor Speedway to add a sun deck and entertainment area to turn four

The Charlotte Observer — Katherine Peraltakperalta@charlotteobserver.Com The Charlotte Observer

April 21--Charlotte Motor Speedway is adding a solar-powered deck and entertainment area to turn four, an addition the Concord track says will enhance the NASCAR fan experience.

The 42,000 square-foot deck will include food and beverage service, restroom facilities, picnic and high-top table areas and a sprawling concourse for live music, corn hole and other entertainment, the speedway said in a statement Friday.

The new deck will be powered by a 960-panel elevated solar farm. The speedway also said the project is expected to be ready in time for 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder, which runs May 19-28.

Turn 4 Sundeck-07

Courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway

Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith said the new deck is a response to fans who want "new ways" to enjoy NASCAR beyond the traditional track experience.

"Fans want to feel that sense of community. They want the flexibility to leave their seats to interact with other fans and have fun, but they still want to stay on top of the action," Smith said.

Speedway Motorsports -- the local company that owns nine NASCAR tracks, including the one in Concord -- had hinted at the project in a securities filing last month, when it said it was removing some lower-demand seating areas and suites at turn four to make way for "premium hospitality and entertainment activities."

Other sporting arenas throughout Charlotte have similarly innovated to improve the fan experience. The Carolina Panthers, for instance, last year upgraded the Wi-Fi system as part of the latest round of renovations at Bank of America Stadium. The Charlotte Hornets added a huge jumbotron at the Spectrum Center last year.

Innovation at a NASCAR facility comes at a crucial time for the industry: The sport has experienced significant declines in attendance for years, which experts blame on a number of factors, including the economy and shifting viewing preferences among fans.

Marcus Smith, son of NASCAR magnate Bruton Smith, is also spearheading the effort to land a Major League Soccer expansion team in Charlotte. He has proposed a $175 million stadium in the Elizabeth neighborhood. The county would raze Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center to make way for the MLS stadium.

Turn 4 Sundeck-06

Courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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