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No, the Chicago Street Race Did NOT Generate Only $600k

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Joshua Lipowski

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Yesterday, many were throwing around the figure of the City of Chicago getting only $600k for the Chicago Street Race, but that does not tell the full story. What did that Chicago Tribune article by A.D. Quig and Hank Sanders say about the dollars and cents surrounding the Chicago Street Race?

How Much Money Did the Street Race Generate?

Quig and Sanders refer to an earlier Chicago Tribune article by Robert Channick and Alice Yin on the economic impact of the Chicago Street Race. According to Channick and Yin, the Street Race generated $109 million in economic impact and $8.3 million in estimated taxes, which were both below NASCAR’s original projections of $113.8 million in economic impact and $8.9 million in taxes.

Now, where did the $600k figure come from? According to Quig and Sanders, NASCAR paid the city of Chicago $620,000 to set up and tear down the Chicago Street Course, while the city paid $3.5 million. So, while the City of Chicago only got around $600k directly from NASCAR, the race itself generated over $100 million of economic impact for local businesses.

What Does This All Mean?

Even though the street race did not generate the exact figures that NASCAR was projecting, they were still very close. The event generated 93.2% of the tax revenue that NASCAR projected and 95.8% of the economic impact that they projected. This was all in spite of the torrential rain canceling three of the four concerts and causing both the Xfinity and Cup races to end before the scheduled distance.

That should be seen as a mild success for NASCAR. Their projections were not too far off, and that is a good thing. That does without even mentioning the TV audience that the race pulled in, which gives Chicago a viewing audience they previously would not have.

As for the $600k that NASCAR paid the city compared to the city paying $3.5 million, yes, the optics of that are not exactly going to appeal to the average Chicago, and understandably so. However, NASCAR can counter it with how much it generates for the businesses in and around Grant Pak, which are the people that the City needs the support of.

However, that gap in costs is not something that the City will want to keep the same for the entirety of the event’s existence. However, some changes are coming that could allow that to change at least somewhat.

How Could it Change in the Future?

There are a few factors to note in how the race will probably change from a money perspective in the future. The Mayor of Chicago, Brandon Johnson, released a statement on how the race will be run differently in the future.

The two biggest notes are that the set-up and tear-down window will be shorter, which obviously helps in terms of the inconvenience of Chicagoans traveling through that part of town. If there are fewer days worked, then it may mean a slight reduction in costs, but, it probably will not be felt that much.

There is also a note that NASCAR will be “Addressing costs incurred by City departments and agencies”, which likely refers to things like police and security personnel. A.D. Quig and Hank Sanders note that the Chicago Police Department paid out $1.4 million in overtime to Chicago Police officers, so, NASCAR will likely take a bite out of that expense.

Another thing to note is that Chicago’s Department of Transportation spent $2.16 million, with $1.7 million coming from repaving the streets for the race and traffic control. Now, how much of that $1.7 million of maintenance is going to have to happen again in 2024? Will they have to repave the same streets they race on in 2024?

In all likelihood, some of that may not need to happen two years in a row. Therefore, there may be some costs going down because of that.

Overall, there seems to be a plan to address the gap between how much NASCAR gave the city and how much the city spent on the race. It seems the two are working together, and the massive economic impact probably played a large role in that. We will see how much it truly helps in 2024.

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