NASCAR street race will give Chicago a great opportunity to shine

Since the days of Daniel Burnham, Chicago has had a proud legacy of making bold plans.

Today, as our city continues to recover from the pandemic, we must embrace this spirit of big thinking if we as a community want to revitalize and diversify our economy.

Fortunately, Chicago was presented with a unique opportunity to make as bold an economic move as the host city of NASCAR’s first street race. In just over a month, some of the world’s most elite athletes will compete in the city centre, against the backdrop of our most iconic landmarks including Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute’s lions and the crystal clear waters. of Lake Michigan.

But this isn’t just another feather on the top of Chicago’s rich history as a sports city: it’s also big business, and perhaps even a reputational and economic imperative.

Hospitality and tourism represent a vital pillar of the fiscal health of our city. These industries were also, unfortunately, among the sectors hardest hit during the pandemic.

Bringing travel and tourism back to Chicago is one of many steps we must take to get our economy back on track. For every $100 a hotel guest spends on lodging, they spend another $222 at their destination. Chicago’s travel industry is a true economic engine for our city, state, and the entire Midwest.

Strengthening Chicago’s fiscal outlook

Chicago Street Race Weekend on July 1-2, the first festival of its kind, is expected to attract more than 100,000 attendees and generate more than $113 million in economic benefits for the city, its businesses and its workers. Race spectators, who come from 48 states and 13 countries, will eat at our restaurants, shop at our small businesses, and fill our hotel rooms, all of which will provide much-needed support to our municipal finances.

That is something we should celebrate. Like the Democratic National Convention, NASCAR could have chosen anywhere in the world to debut its inaugural Cup Series street race, one of the biggest moves in the league’s 75-year history. Many cities would have loved to roll out the red carpet, but NASCAR chose Chicago for a reason.

NASCAR is betting big on Chicago because we are a city second to none. We know how to host top-tier events, whether it’s Lollapalooza, the NFL Draft, international conventions like the DNC, or the annual Air & Water Show. We’ve done it before, and we know how to do it right.

That’s why NASCAR is investing more than $50 million in us as a city. The race weekend will create the equivalent of 850 full-time jobs and generate $31 million in personal earnings for workers. This is in addition to $3 million in direct city taxes to fund vital services like public safety, schools, and our looming pension crisis.

But what you can’t quantify is perhaps the most valuable of all: two days of live international sports and media coverage that will showcase our city at its summer peak, making downtown Chicago the biggest star of the race.

At a time when this city is in desperate need of a good national story, we will have the opportunity to showcase the best Chicago has to offer to a global audience of millions, generating continued interest from potential visitors well beyond the weekend. of the career.

The Chicago Street Race is our chance to reignite our economic tourism engine and help boost our economy.

With the arrival of NASCAR in Chicago, we are in the first position. It’s time to seize this opportunity and not take your foot off the accelerator.

Jack Lavin is President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

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