Martinsville Jared C Tilton Stringer

NASCAR track undergoing changes in response to the sport's recent struggles

When the Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR fans will notice a big difference in the stands.

Speedway president Clay Campbell announced that the track is taking out rows of seats from the top of Bill France Tower between Turn 3 and Turn 4. He also said that all the seats above the press box at Turn 1 and Turn 2 will be taken out, according to the Martinsville Bulletin.

Campbell said part of the reason why those seats were being removed is because they were too high for fans to reach. But the main reason undoubtedly stems from NASCAR's recent attendance woes.

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Attendance dropped substantially in NASCAR last year, and the stands looked half empty at many races throughout the year. The removal of seats will at least help in that regard as it seems like Campbell isn't expecting attendance to improve next year.

"We're calling it 'facility optimization,'" Campbell said. "What it boils down to, obviously now we have the opportunity to take some seats out. Attendance is not what it used to be so we can take some seats out and those seats are the highest that we have. So to make it easier on our fans so they don't have to climb 10 stories to get to seats, they're the ones we're taking out.

"It's not a lot of seats but at the end of the day it's going to make the experience better for everyone in that tower because by eliminating those seats people don't have to walk to get to the top row. It will relieve pressure on our concession stands and our restrooms in that tower, we can only build so many in there. So it's really a win-win for everybody concerned so that's the reason we're taking those out."
Campbell said he doesn't think the sky is falling, and he believes the changes will be greeted positively by fans.
The track is also changing the front entrance to help make things easier for fans entering the race, and Campbell said most of the changes will be finished by the March 25 race.
It will be intriguing to monitor if other tracks follow suit as far as taking out seats. If attendance continues to decline in 2018, tracks throughout the country might take out seats. Daytona and Talladega might not have to worry about attendance, but it has been a problem at most tracks, and the sport will continue to look for answers this season.