How Many Seats In Bristol Motor Speedway? [Fact Checked!]

Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most well-known auto racing tracks in the world. It is located in Bristol, Tennessee, about an hour from Nashville.

The track actually dates back to 1911, making it the third-oldest active sports facility in the United States. Over the years, it has changed ownership several times until it was purchased by the city of Bristol in 1995. Today, the track is considered to be one of the crown jewels of the city’s revitalization program.

Bristol has been on a steady rise in popularity as a tourist destination and a sports and entertainment hub since the early 2000s. It has gained a reputation as a “bucket list” destination for adrenaline junkies and racing fans. Thus, the question: how many seats are there in Bristol Motor Speedway?

The short answer is: it depends. Since there are no fixed regulations regarding the number of seats at an amphitheater or sports stadium, the best answer is: it varies. However, if you take a look at the seating chart for Bristol Motor Speedway, you will see that there are 16,024 fixed seats plus another 2,000 or so cushioned seats in the grandstands.

Here’s a detailed look at how many seats are in Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Fixed Seats

The fixed seats are the backbone of any sports or entertainment facility. Without them, the whole thing begins to sag, literally. With only a few seats in any given row, viewers are essentially sat on top of one another. The good thing is that these seats are very stable and do not move, ever. The bad thing is that there aren’t any. Each row is composed of four fixed seats and the middle pair is flanked by two more for good measure. As you can see in the image below, the fixed seats are simply a single chair with no back or arm rests. It’s fair to say that they’re pretty uncomfortable for long periods of time, especially during sporting events.

Since they’re fixed, the only way to improve the experience is to widen the rows. The easiest way to do this is by adding more chairs in each row. Once the front rows are filled, the back rows disappear entirely, causing a severe loss of seating. This becomes problematic when there are larger events scheduled at the venue. For example, when the Houston Texans play the Tennessee Titans, the stadium is filled to capacity, causing everyone in the last rows to be forced to squirm, uncomfortably.

The Grandstands & The Paddock

Apart from the fixed seats, Bristol Motor Speedway also features an outdoor area, known as the “paddock” where people arrive early to get a good parking spot or ride the shuttle buses to the venue. The outdoor area is fully covered and shielded from the blazing hot sun by white canopies, creating a comfortable experience for viewers, especially during evening games. The grandstands in the outdoor area feature four rows of seating, with the top two rows being the most important, as they are the ones closest to the track and have the best view of the action. The seats in the lower two rows are made of brushed steel and have a pattern of flowers engraved on the front edges.

In total, the outdoor area of Bristol Motor Speedway seats around 16,000, of which 9,200 are located in the grandstands and the remaining 7,800 are in the paddock. The seats in the grandstands are, again, completely fixed in position and cannot be moved, ever, which is great for the safety of the fans sitting there, as it means that no matter how badly the players or coaches wanna win this game, the seats will not move and ruin the magic of the experience. The downside is that the seats are not very comfortable and do not offer much flexibility, especially when there are larger bands or musical performances scheduled at the venue.

The Shaded Seats

If the sun is beating down on you, and you’re not into sitting in the open air, then the shaded seats are the answer. These are the rows of seats that are covered by a large canvas or metal roof, offering a certain amount of protection from the heat. They can be attached to the seats next to the wall or be positioned halfway up, creating a perfect environment for the viewer. Since they are covered, the only way to improve the experience is to add more of them. Thus, the hunt begins for the ideal location to add more seats to the venue.

If we were to sit down and categorize the ideal location for the installation of additional seats, we would come up with three options.

  • The first option is the best of the three. It’s not far from the entrance, but it’s also not in the middle of nowhere. It’s close to some of the best food trucks in the area, all owned by local businesses. It’s also close to parks, which are great for families, with or without children. The seating area is fully equipped with modern amenities, such as electricity and Wi-Fi. All in all, this option has it all, if you ask me.
  • The second option is located in the middle of nowhere, far away from any food trucks or amusement parks. It’s surrounded by nothing but fields, with the occasional church spire or water tower in the distance. The good thing about this option is that it’s completely secluded from other venues, offering the perfect romantic evening for a couple. The downside is that this is the most difficult option to reach, by car or public transport. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to, depending on the traffic. On the plus side, there’s a beautiful, wooden bell tower that adds a touch of European charm to the whole scene. And yes, there is an entrance fee of $25 per car. The bathrooms here are also completely renovated and feature showers instead of the traditional bucket baths. A real treasure.
  • The third and last option is the classic choice for most venues. It’s centrally located in town, right in the middle of everything. There are sidewalks nearby, restaurants and bars around the corner. It’s easy for families, as there are many entertainment options for kids, such as mini-golf, paintball, and arcades.

The best option is the one that you choose based on the needs of the audience. However, remember that the ideal location for additional seating is not always the easiest one to get to, if you ask me. Sometimes, it’s best to look at the map and find the next best option, which is sometimes even close to the first one.

What About All The Seats Between The Walls?

If you happen to be in a band that plays at smaller venues, then you will notice that there are some seats, which are located behind the stage, and are not visible from the outside. These seats are called “belly-wall” seats and are mostly used by promoters and artists, as they are not very comfortable and have no backs or armrests, either. They were originally installed to give the band better visibility and to protect them from the sun, as there’s no way to put on a shade, due to the canvas or metal roof covering the seats. These types of floors are usually made of concrete, with the color, pattern, or texture varied from venue to venue, to give it a bit of uniqueness. The good thing about these seats is that they are rarely used, due to the lack of flexibility and poor acoustics. If you are a promoter who needs a place to store all the equipment, then these are your seats.

The Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different options for adding more seats to an existing venue. Depending on the size of the venue and the nature of the event, as well as the location of the ideal spot you have in mind, you will need to do some research and see what is available, before making a decision.

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