Sports Vacations Tip: Don’t Sweat Venue Renovations

Sports Vacations Tips: Don't Sweat the Venue Renovations

Two destinations that deserve to be on every U.S. sports fan’s bucket list are being renovated in 2015. But daily public tours go on at Daytona International Speedway in Florida and Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, despite the work. Don’t let construction activity discourage you from visiting either iconic venue.

Lambeau Field

Take a tour of Lambeau Field, aka “the Frozen Tundra,” legendary home of the Green Bay Packers. The ideal Lambeau experience is Packers game day, but there are only 10 of those any given year (excluding the postseason), and every Packers home game has been sold out since 1960. The next-best thing is a stadium tour, which is still all but guaranteed to bring chills to any fan with an appreciation for Lambeau’s place in NFL history.

From Bart Starr’s heroics in the “Ice Bowl” in 1967 to the more contemporary superhuman feats of Brett Favre and now Aaron Rodgers (and the untold number of “Lambeau Leaps”), Lambeau has seen its share of glorious moments that helped tiny Green Bay earn the nickname “Titletown, USA.” The facility, called City Stadium when it opened in 1957, two years before Vince Lombardi began prowling the Packers sidelines, was renamed in 1965 after the passing of team founder Earl “Curly” Lambeau.

Lambeau FieldExpansion and stadium improvements over the years included the introduction of an atrium in the early 2000s. The present construction involves renovation of the atrium, home of the Packers Hall of Fame as well as restaurants among other sites of interest.

The renovation is expected to be complete by 2015. But in the meantime, the atrium is included in even the lowest-priced tour option, which also includes a stroll through the players tunnel and time spent on the field.

Green Bay is less than 3 hours from Chicago and less than 2 hours from Milwaukee. It’s also just under 2 ½ hours from Wisconsin Dells, which makes for great possible combinations of family and sports vacations.

Daytona International Speedway

How massive is the makeover of the most famous and beloved NASCAR track in the land? According to track officials, steel ordered and delivered in 2014 for the project known as Daytona Rising constituted 1% of all steel produced that year in the United States. The vision of the $400 million project is to convert the storied, 2.5-mile home of the Daytona 500 into a ultra-modern stadium that promises to deliver a superior fan experience.

Seating capacity actually will decrease from 147,000 to 101,000. Regular backstretch seating will be eliminated, replaced with a suite complex, but seats on the front straightaway will be wider and more comfortable. Fans also will enjoy social areas called “neighborhoods” as well as access to more rest rooms and concessions. Fans will enter the facility through one of five portals called “injectors” that lead to 40 escalators and 14 elevators.

Daytona Speedway RaceSome new seats will debut in Speedweeks 2015, the practices, qualifications and races that begin Thursday, February 12, and culminate Sunday, February 22, in the 57th Daytona 500.

Construction should be complete by Speedweeks 2016. Not only has it not interrupted popular year-round tour activity of the historic facility, close-up views of the project in progress are incorporated, at least for a limited time, in some tour packages.

But as interesting it is to observe the transformation of this American icon, touring Daytona International Speedway is mostly about the past and present. It’s about viewing historic memorabilia to riding along the 31-degree banking where so many epic battles and have been waged and so much paint is traded year after year. It’s about seeing pit road, the inspection station and the start-finish line. Sports fans in general, and racing fans in particular, probably already know much about this famous venue and can learn more by reading. And then there’s that which can be learned only by being there and experiencing it firsthand.

Daytona Beach offers many things to many visitors. But seeing Daytona International Speedway is one of the most unforgettable sports vacations.

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Speedway

Photo Credit: Nancy Nally, The359, Phil Roeder, Pat & Keri (license)