Music City Grand Prix race could bring $20 million to downtown Nashville

Race weekend will feature three days of live music
IndyCar Nashville.jpeg
Posted at 4:38 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 06:54:11-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A big opportunity for downtown Nashville businesses to rebound, was just added to the calendar in 2021. IndyCar Racing announced Wednesday they will hold a street race in the middle of downtown, called the Music City Grand Prix, along with a food and music festival.

The inaugural race weekend will be held August 6-8 in 2021.

The Nashville Convention and Visitor's Corporation anticipates at least $20 million in visitor spending, and millions more to be spent by the race organizers to prepare for the big weekend.

Johnny Baker with Ole Smokey Distillery said this race may just be the shot in the arm downtown businesses like 6th and Peabody need. "Anything to get Nashville back up and going to where it was," said Baker.

Spyridon is hopeful with the event a little less than a year away, social distancing will be a distant memory by then. Even if it isn't, he thinks it will be good for Nashville. "We’ll be able to pull it off with a decent sized crowd. Maybe we’re wearing masks, hopefully we’re not, but I think August gives us a really good runway," said Spyridon.

IndyCar has committed to a three year agreement in Nashville, so the hope is even if the crowds have to remain smaller in the first year, it will become an NFL Draft like crowd in the years that follow.

Baker is excited about the international following that comes with IndyCar racing. On average, international travelers stay longer and are willing to spend more money. "We’re ready, we’re ready," said Baker.

More than anything else, Baker says this will be something for him, and his future customers, to look forward to.

"We need our swagger back," said Baker.

Of course, the announcement comes at a time when the city of Nashville's finances are in near crisis-mode. Nashville Mayor John Cooper assured tax payers at Wednesday's announcement that all extra costs involving police, fire and public works officials will be covered by IndyCar, and will not come out of taxpayer's wallets.