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NASCAR race promises to boost economic impact for Las Vegas

Last year, NASCAR’s Pennzoil 400 generated more than $166 million in nongaming economic impact for Las Vegas, according to research from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway expects to see similar results from this year’s three-day event, which kicks off Friday.

“NASCAR in Las Vegas has one of the greatest impacts of any event, not just sports, on the Las Vegas economy,” said speedway president Chris Powell.

Economic impact

NASCAR has been hosting events in Las Vegas since the inaugural Las Vegas 400 in 1998. While attendance and television ratings have been declining in recent years, NASCAR races are still significant for the city, according to Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Applied Analysis.

The visitors “stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants and see shows while they’re still in town,” he said. “There’s been some decline, but it’s still big for economic activity for Southern Nevada. … Special event visitors do spend their money differently.”

And these events do more than just bring in money from direct spending, Powell said. They are also worth millions in media value.

The 2016 Kobalt 400 at the speedway, for example, brought in $5 million in media value to the city from the 7.2 million television viewers. The Pennzoil 400 is also expected to expose Las Vegas to millions of eyes, Powell said.

“It brings worldwide exposure through network television, national and international media and streaming services around the globe,” he said.

Bringing in tourists

Boyd Gaming Corp. expects the race to boost business, according to spokesman David Strow.

The company is the title sponsor for the event’s Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race on Saturday.

To help draw in more visitors, Boyd is offering room and ticket packages to customers, and plans to hold events to draw in the NASCAR crowd, such as an after-race party with a Tim McGraw tribute at the Cannery hotel-casino.

“It’s another opportunity to get customers across the country to visit us in Vegas,” Strow said.

And even with NASCAR’s decline in Las Vegas, Strow said the event “still does very well for us at our properties across town.”

Road congestion ahead

With upward of 100,000 people converging on the speedway this weekend, the Nevada Department of Transportation is urging motorists to avoid Interstate 15 northbound near the speedway.

Events at the speedway occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m Friday through Sunday.

“We expect heavy traffic along northern Interstate 15 during NASCAR race weekend,” said NDOT spokesman Tony Illia. “We advise taking alternate routes, if possible. But, if travel through the area is unavoidable, please plan accordingly and budget additional time to reach your destination.”

To avoid the bulk of the congestion on I-15 northbound near Speedway Boulevard, motorists can take the Craig Road exit to Las Vegas Boulevard.

Depending on what part of the valley racegoers are coming from, motorists can take the 215 Beltway to I-15 southbound, to the Craig off-ramp, or U.S. Highway 95 to I-15 northbound to Craig.

Racegoers can opt to skip the roads entirely and take to the air, as Maverick Helicopters offers helicopter rides to and from the speedway. The trips usually take about 15 minutes and begin at $499 per person.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Mick Akers contributed to this report.

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