What’s the economic impact of the Gateway Dirt Nationals?

The Gateway Dirt Nationals brings $3.1 million to the city of St. Louis

The Gateway Dirt Nationals might be the biggest dirt race in the world from a dollar figure. If it’s not the most attended, it’s close and it will be in the coming years.

Eldora Speedway has a seating capacity of 18,000. The World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte seats anywhere from 14,000 to 20,000 (I’ve heard various numbers). That puts the Gateway Dirt Nationals either 2nd or 3rd on the list.

The Gateway Dirt Nationals is in it’s second year. Both years, they have all but sold out the bottom bowl of seating at The Dome during the Saturday night feature. The bottom portion of The Dome at America’s Center has a seating capacity of 15,000, with the tarps in place in turns 1-2 and 3-4.

“STL Visitors Commission gave me a report today which estimates that provides over $3.1 million dollar economic impact in the STL market. Thank you to everyone that supports us and makes it all possible!,” Cody Sommer stated via his personal twitter account.

2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals Modifieds 5589
2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals Modifieds

Where does the event go from here?

Simply, it’s going to grow.

By looking at the at the crowd in comparison to last year, it was the same. However, that’s mostly due to temporary limitations during the Saturday night showing. Friday night’s show looked significantly larger than last year.

The following photos show a comparison shot between Thursday and Friday. Both photos show the front straight-away seating.

Saturday all but sold out in 2016. The debut race likely saw a natural spike in attendance, just from people looking to say they went to the first one. Though, this year, it again looked like it sold out completely by the Saturday night feature.

Why didn’t they open the next level of seating? I hear you asking that. I’ll tell you… it’s more complicated than just opening an extra level inside The Dome.

That’s a decision that Cody Sommer told me the staff needed to make a day or two ahead of time. They need to staff the additional levels. The building won’t allow floors to be open without security and such roaming the level as well.

At the same time, the bottom row has to more than just sellout. There has to be enough people egger to fill the second level to justify the cost of hiring the additional staff members for the new level.

If Friday’s attendance continues to scale, they will pull the switch on level two for Saturday. By Saturday, it’s too late to make that decision.

Looking into the future, that place will seat 60,000 with a waiting list to boot. I’m confident of that. It’s exciting, not just for Gateway but for dirt racing as a whole.


Gateway Dirt | Shane Walters