NASCAR CEO Brian France is maybe looking to get into the football business.
According to WCNC in Charlotte, France is the head of a group looking to buy the Carolina Panthers. The team is for sale following sexual harassment accusations against the franchise’s current owner, Jerry Richardson.
France would be part of a group that includes longtime NASCAR team owner Felix Sabates.
Sabates Wednesday would not comment on France being part of the group. However, three sources, all in positions to know, confirmed to NBC Charlotte that France was part of the group and would be the majority owner if the deal goes through. NBC Charlotte agreed not to name the sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
NASCAR attendance and TV ratings have been declining. It is not known if that played a part in France’s interest to acquire the Panthers or if he plans to sell his stake in NASCAR to finance the deal.
NASCAR has denied the report.
NEWS: #NASCAR issues statement denying validity of report Brian France is involved Carolina Panthers bidding process.
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) January 3, 2018
While NASCAR is officially headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida, Charlotte serves as the hub for the sport. The sanctioning body has offices in Charlotte, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is located there and most of the sport’s teams have shops in the greater Charlotte area.
NASCAR was founded by France’s grandfather Bill France, Sr. Brian France took over as the man in charge of NASCAR in 2003 after his father, Bill France, Jr. The younger Bill France died in 2007.
France’s ascension to NASCAR’s head honcho began a period of massive change in NASCAR that’s continued to this day. 2003 was the final season of longtime Cup Series sponsor Winston and the final season of the sport’s traditional season-long points format. When Nextel took over as the sport’s sponsor in 2004, NASCAR went to a 10-race playoff system to determine its champion over the fall months.
The Chase, as it was originally called, was designed to compete with the NFL on fall Sundays. Since the postseason format’s initial implementation, NASCAR has had three different sponsors (Sprint bought Nextel) and the playoff format has been changed, on average, every three years. While the cause of NASCAR’s decline in attendance and TV ratings over the past decade can’t be pinpointed to one single issue, many longtime fans say they’re disillusioned with the playoff format and its seemingly constant changes.
When he was asked about NASCAR’s television ratings decline in November, France incredibly said that it wasn’t accurate ratings had fallen despite all evidence to the contrary.
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