Homestead-Miami Speedway brings $248 million to economy yearly, study shows
By April M. Havens
Homestead-Miami Speedway generates an economic impact of $248 million a year, according to a new economic study commissioned by the track, and with the speedway revving up for this weekend's NASCAR racing events, the track expects to inject another $146 million or more into the economy.
That figure, based on research conducted by Weston-based Sport Management Research Institute, which specializes in market research for sports and entertainment business, is reflective of the amount generated by the 2004 Ford Championship Weekend, track officials say.
The NASCAR racing weekend includes the Craftsman Truck Series finale Friday, the Busch Series finale Saturday, and the NEXTEL Cup on Sunday.
"It's one of the largest economic impact events in South Florida," said Curtis Gray, president of Homestead-Miami Speedway. "That's partly because we sell tickets in all 50 states, and the average race fan stays here four days, but they are actually starting to stay longer because we're developing it into a championship week."
The speedway's capacity is 70,000 people, including suite space, Mr. Gray said, and Sunday's race is sold out. About 1,300 recreational vehicles are expected, and the first one arrived mid-week last week, he said.
"It's like having a Super Bowl in our community every year," said Michael Richardson, president and CEO of the Vision Council, the economic development organization that represents the area south of Southwest 216th Street.
"This one single event is one of the largest contributors to the economy, and the primary things is does is bring new people into our community," he said. "They eat here, they stay here, and the local hospitality industry benefits."
The flip side of that benefit, Mr. Richardson said, is that Homestead's hospitality industry is relatively small and doesn't have the facilities to support the larger number of people who come in for the races, so many race fans have to stay in Miami or the Florida Keys, taking their dollars with them.
Mr. Richardson has long been a proponent of bringing a hotel-conference center complex to Homestead, a place that would bring more higher-paying jobs to the area, he said earlier this summer.
The speedway also accounts for 14,000-15,000 hotel room nights a year in addition to event weekends, Mr. Gray said. "That's not including our big Indy car or NASCAR weekends, strictly track rental or usage."
The post-event championship weekend's 2004 economic impact noted the average out-of-town attendee stayed four nights and spent about $160 a day while visiting. It also noted that hotels in Homestead, the Miami International Airport area and the Keys had 90% or more rooms filled during the event.
While major races pack the most punch for the racetrack, hundreds of other money-making events are held at the track every year, keeping it busy an average of 260 days annually. The track maintains a 40-person full-time staff, Mr. Gray said.
The track handles racecar testing, club racing (where owners of car brands such as Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini can race their own cars), motorcycle racing and training/lessons, car manufacturer launches and press events, commercial shoots, movie filming, karting (in high-speed training karts for future racecar drivers, Mr. Gray says), corporate events and seminars, and even weddings and bar mitzvahs.
"We're really active year round," Mr. Gray said.
Spin-off business from the track, local experts say, will land at Homestead's Park of Commerce, the closest zoned land to the speedway.
Edward Redlich, principal of Homestead Park LLC, owns 15 acres in the park and plans to build out 200,000 square feet of leasable warehouse and office space beginning in the first quarter of 2008. He says speedway-related tenants will be "a significant part of the business," but he will also be looking for manufacturers and people from the service and repair industry to lease space.
"A lot of this is speculation and hoping when we build it they will come," Mr. Redlich said.
Mr. Redlich hopes to have the spaces completed by the first quarter of 2009.
Jeff Williamson, president of Republic Real Estate Advisors, serves as the brokerage and real estate developer for Baer Enterprises, which owns about 14 acres in the Park of Commerce.
Mr. Williamson said he and his client have been approached by multiple racing teams wanting smaller warehouse facilities in the park.
"These racing teams have a lot of stuff and need a home base to store and work on their equipment," Mr. Williamson said, anticipating the park will have a track-driven component in the future.
"But there hasn't been enough interest to actually start a project yet," he said, noting most of the teams want to own, not lease, the space and want the spaces built out in too short a time frame.