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NASCAR Media Group moves ahead

The NASCAR Media Group is not even two years old, but nowhere is the sanctioning body spending more money or more carefully plotting its future.

Over the next few months, the media group will start moving out of its cosy, well-worn offices just south of downtown Charlotte. Its new $45 million home - $30 million in state-of-the-art equipment, $15 million in construction - will be adjoining the sparkling NASCAR Hall of Fame building in the heart of downtown, where it will occupy floors two through five of the 19-story office tower.

Inside, the media group will have everything it needs to start its own network, from multiple studios and control rooms, to full graphics and high-definition capability. Even though the Hall of Fame won't open for another year, the office space adjoining the attraction will be ready for occupancy in June.

It will give NASCAR nearly limitless options when it enters the next round of media talks - its current deals for TV, radio, mobile and the Internet expire in 2014. And the idea of joining Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and NFL in starting its own network will be part of the discussion.

“We wanted more control over the process of creating and distributing our content,” said Jay Abraham, NASCAR Media Group's chief operator. “This new facility will allow us to evaluate a broader range of strategic options for NASCAR, the industry and how we can best serve the fan.”

Whether those plans include a NASCAR network remains to be seen, but it's clear that the sanctioning body is at least positioning itself to go in that direction.

“For NASCAR to consider its own network, I think that's a smart investigation,” said Mark Lazarus, president of media and marketing for Atlanta's Career Sports & Entertainment and the former Turner Sports chief.

“It's smart, in terms of controlling their content, but also because of their fiduciary responsibility to the industry, to teams and tracks.”

Speed, in more than 75 million homes, serves as a de facto NASCAR network already, with exhaustive coverage through the week and on race weekends.

NASCAR Media Group provides content for seven or eight shows a week and calls Speed easily its biggest client.



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