MLS at Daytona International Speedway? It could happen

The track would need a giant platform with grass on top of it to make the logistics work, but...
Instead of cars and pit crews, imagine Daytona International Speedway hosting a soccer game here. (2017 Times file photo)
Instead of cars and pit crews, imagine Daytona International Speedway hosting a soccer game here. (2017 Times file photo)
Published February 12

As Daytona International Speedway continues to reinvent itself and reach new fans by hosting non-traditional events, it doesn’t sound as if the next step will be a football game.

A NASCAR track (Bristol) has already hosted one of those, when Virginia Tech and Tennessee met in 2016.

“It’s been done now,” Daytona president Chip Wile said recently when I spoke to him about this story on the speedway’s transformation. “We don’t want to do that. We are the premiere motorsports facility, and we’re going to do something nobody else has ever done before.”

Something like … a soccer game.

Wile said the track has talked with the MLS about a game (just as it’s talked with the NFL and NHL). The sport is growing in the U.S., as Wile knows. His Atlanta-based family won’t go to a Falcons game, but they have season tickets to Atlanta United FC.

“I think having a soccer game here would be really interesting,” Wile said.

If you’re curious about the logistics, here’s how it would work: The speedway would put a platform —maybe six inches, maybe a foot — on the existing grass, from the apron at the bottom of the track almost to the wall on pit road. The grass would go on top of the platform, and the ends could be a VIP seating area.

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