Shedd Aquarium could miss millions due to NASCAR street racing this summer – NBC Chicago
A Shedd Aquarium official says the famous Chicago landmark could miss up to $3 million in the NASCAR Street Race on Independence Day weekend this summer.
In what is the aquarium’s busiest time of year, when up to 10,000 guests visit each day, access to the museum campus and North Island is expected to be affected by related closures at the NASCAR Street Race.
Meghan Curran, director of marketing and experience at the aquarium, said nearby street closures typically have a significant impact on visitor traffic, with the closure of Columbus Drive for Lollapalooza resulting in a 30% reduction in typical summer weekend visitors each year.
As the NASCAR Street Race set-up and tear-down process is expected to take approximately 10 days, the aquarium is anticipating a significant drop in visitor numbers on what could be the busiest weekend of the year.
For the first time, NASCAR will bring stock car racing to the streets of Chicago in 2023, setting up a 2.2-mile circuit that will take drivers past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The Shedd Aquarium, however, is expected to lose “two to three million dollars” due to road closures.
In addition to impacting business on a crowded weekend, the aquarium is also concerned about the potential impact the closures could have on summer camp programs.
While Curran notes that customers often schedule their visits close to their departure date, the presence of the race and widespread closures near the lakeside town center are expected to reduce revenue on the heavily touristy weekend.
Although NASCAR said logistical plans for the race are still being finalized, the Chicago Street Race president said visitors will still have access to the museums, with more information to be released in the coming weeks.
NASCAR is scheduled to meet with the Grant Park Advisory Board next month, where officials will outline details and their estimated footprint of the summer event.