NASCAR considers moving Cup banquet to Vegas

BY foxsports • April 4, 2009

After 27 years, NASCAR is negotiating to move the Sprint Cup Series banquet from New York to Las Vegas.

A formal announcement could be made in the next two weeks, multiple sources told

"If that happens, I'm all for it. That definitely fits my style a lot more than New York did. New York is a neat place. It doesn't fit me and my lifestyle, but I think it (Las Vegas) fits us a lot better."

— Tony Stewart

"I think it's cool. Like I said at the beginning of the year, they can come and have it on some farm land that I have there in Missouri, and invite everyone. Whatever makes it easier for the fans to come show up and be a part of it, makes it more fun for the sponsors, I think that's good."

— Carl Edwards

"At the end of the day our banquet needs some life injected into it. It needs fan involvement, it needs a fresh look with new ideas. The country music awards and those kinds of things where the fans are involved and are right there — that's what we need. We need something new and exciting ... The only thing I care about is finding a way so that it's more exciting and I think that being in Vegas might give us a venue that enables us to do that."

— Jeff Burton

"Wherever I can be the champ. It don't matter to me if it was in Nantucket — I don't care."

— Dale Earnhardt Jr.

While not confirming the switch in venue, NASCAR's Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said on Friday that the governing body was "looking at it."

"It's no secret that Las Vegas would be an outstanding venue for the awards ceremony," Hunter said. "But a final decision has not been made."

Hunter said several factors figure into the decision, including the economy, the existence of "an excellent venue" in Las Vegas Motor Speedway and, most importantly, fan involvement.

"We were limited in space (at the Waldorf-Astoria) and could not include the fan element," Hunter added. "We could accommodate the fans in Las Vegas. There are so many opportunities to do more with the fans — a whole week of activities."

Hunter estimated that moving the banquet could save the industry $2 to $3 million.

Speedway Motorsports Chairman Bruton Smith has been an advocate for moving the banquet to Las Vegas for several years. Smith cited the rising costs of New York as the main reason to change venues but also the ability to include the fans.

"There are at least three places you could (hold the event) — Mandalay Bay, MGM and I don't know how many people you could seat at Bellagio but they seat 16,000 at the two previous places I mentioned," Smith said. "So maybe we could sell 10,000 seats to the race fans and let them come and enjoy the activities. That's what I'd like to see."

Although Smith would like to see LVMS hold the season finale, he doesn't believe that moving the banquet will have any bearing on whether the track receives a second date.

Las Vegas native Kyle Busch said moving the NASCAR Sprint Cup banquet to his hometown would "be special."

"It'd be pretty cool," Busch said. "I look forward to it if it happens. New York is a good place for it. We always like going to New York, I know the girlfriends love going there for the shopping and getting Christmas stuff out of the way.

"Vegas will be a little bit different in that respect but at least the weather might be a little warmer. Maybe if we're going to be there for a whole week there might be some time we can go out to the sand dunes or something. That would be fun, too. I look forward to it. If it changes, it changes and it'd be different scenery for sure. You find a place big enough to hold that many people than I'm sure we'll fill it."

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