CHICAGO — Leaders at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium fear it could lose several millions of dollars this summer due to NASCAR holding a race in Grant Park.
In less than four months, NASCAR’s big street race is coming to downtown Chicago. The two-day event will run July 1-2, but preparation for the race will start nearly a month earlier.
NASCAR’s arrival this summer has promoted unease among some Shedd Aquarium officials who worry about lost revenue amid one of the museum’s busiest times.
“We’re on a peninsula and the access is constrained. I know that on a busy weekend, it’s already tough and adding an event like this, with this many road closures, is going to have an impact,” said Meghan Curran, chief marketing and experience officer for the Shedd Aquarium.
Shedd officials say during the July 4 weekend, they see at least 10,000 guests per day, generating $2-3 million in revenue. Officials also expect a summer camp that runs the week of NASCAR to be canceled. But so far, Curran says they have not been told that NASCAR, nor the city of Chicago, will help offset any loss in revenue.
“We have not heard anything at this moment that leads us to expect us to be made whole but anything that we aren’t able to bring in the door certainly impacts our ability to deliver our programs, to deliver our exhibits and conservation mission,” Curran said.
Street repairs to the course route will start this spring, impacting traffic.
Some have expressed excitement about the event, while others who have experienced a NASCAR race say there is reason for some concern.
“The street races, they’re pretty cool. They, of course, bring more attraction to the city, but there’s always some ripple effect,” said Tristin Campbell, who was visiting from Las Vegas.
“We live in Phoenix and we’ve had NASCAR for five years,” said Gerald Richmond from Phoenix. “It really does shut down streets. There’s a lot of noise. Your businesses are affected.”
A spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office says: “The City is working with NASCAR to develop a traffic plan that minimizes street closures and maintains access to the downtown while allowing this event to take place with the highest safety measures.”