Weekend a test of NASCAR's economic impact

This weekend will bring another test of whether the three days of NASCAR Sprint Cup races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway can continue to defy national trends.

The 156,000 who attended last year's event was a 7,000 increase from 2009, according to statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. This translated into an 8 percent gain in nongaming spending to $115.5 million.

There are no projections for this weekend from the convention authority.

But NASCAR's popularity has hit a wall after years of being one of the country's fastest-growing spectator sports.

During the first nine months of 2010, Speedway Motorsports, the Concord, N.C.-based owner of the Las Vegas track, reported that admissions revenue had dropped 15.6 percent to $117.9 million. The company attributed the decline both to fewer people in the stands and discounted tickets sold to those who came. The company does not break out results for individual tracks, but the results were similar in the first quarter, when the Las Vegas race is run.

This performance followed the 13.3 percent drop in admissions revenue for all of 2009 to $163.1 million.

In addition, Speedway Motorsports said that television ratings had declined but did not give specifics.

Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.