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Local News

NASCAR Hall Front And Center For NYE

http://66.225.205.104/JR20111226.mp3

Charlotte tourism officials are hoping holiday cheer and fast cars will prove complementary on New Year's Eve. The city's winter ice rink and First Night festivities are shifting to focus more attention on the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is in desperate need of a boost. A year and a half after the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in Uptown Charlotte, it still struggles to attract the attendance boosters promised. The first year brought barely a quarter of the 800,000 visitors expected, and monthly figures for the second year are running even lower. So, NASCAR Hall of Fame director Winston Kelley says, "we were delighted when the folks from First Night wanted to increase the involvement the Hall of Fame had in being the headquarters for all the kids activities." First Night is produced by Charlotte Center City Partners, with support from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which runs the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In previous years, New Year's Eve festivities for children were further up Tryon at ImaginOn and Discovery Place. The Hall of Fame takes over this year, offering live performances and kids crafts within view of the museum's signature racing exhibit. Kelley says it's a chance to support the community, but "if folks realize that there's so much more in the NASCAR Hall of Fame than what they envisioned, that would be a great outcome." The same thinking applies to the holiday ice skating rink that used to be on South Tryon and is now open on the plaza in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Skaters get a discount to come back and visit the Hall later, but Kelley says it's too early to tell if there's much crossover between fans of the ice rink and those of the speedway. The bulk of First Night festivities for adults - including the main concert stage and midnight countdown - will happen near the Duke Energy Tower on South Tryon.