Saturday, February 23, 2013

Your Florida Tax Dollars at Work: Daytona 500 Sponsorships

Interesting taxpayer expense that was floating under the radar until Michael Van Sickler from the Tampa Bay Times wrote about it this weekend: $174,500 in FDOT money to sponsor a pair of NASCAR stock cars in Sunday's Daytona 500.

Van Sickler writes it's designed to remind Floridians not to hit pedestrians:
(FDOT), which is known more for building highways than sidewalks, picked this week because accidents spike during the international event.

Every year more than 250,000 people attend the big race at the Daytona International Speedway — and they do so by walking along and across the eight-lane road that runs in front of the race track.

From 2008 to 2011, there were 10 crashes involving pedestrians within a 5-mile radius of the racetrack during Speedweeks, including three last year, according to the state.


Yes, there is an elevated walkway that a $2 million state grant paid for back in 2000 to avoid such accidents, and "people use it," McPherson said.


"But the majority of the people still use the street," she said.


So your tax dollars will pay for a campaign that includes sponsorship of two stock cars on a team that includes champ and native Floridian Joe Nemechek. That's one Nationwide car on Saturday and one Sprint Cup car on Sunday, each car's hood festooned with a public service announcement in the shape of a red bull's eye, perhaps a crude reminder of where a pedestrian would land if smashed by a car.

...
Yes, it might be hard to notice the slogan as cars whiz by at close to 200 mph. But the exposure could be valuable, according to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates. Depending on how Nemechek does this weekend, the state could receive millions of dollars worth of television exposure.

What's more, an airplane will circle over the speedway for three hours Sunday, pulling a banner that reads: "Alert today, alive tomorrow: Safety doesn't happen by accident."


Asked if the fans swigging Bud Lights in the grandstands would understand that this message from on high had anything to do with pedestrian safety, McPherson explained that the message is intended to be about more than pedestrians.


"The car has to be alert, too," McPherson said. "Everyone has to be alert. We didn't want to just focus on pedestrians."


(We're assuming McPherson doesn't want the race drivers looking up at the banner.)


The campaign includes radio ads for drivers 65 and up, a class of drivers that are more prone to crash into pedestrians, McPherson said. They will air in April. Additional ads will target impaired drivers, who also have higher rates of hitting pedestrians, McPherson said.


Asked why the cars sponsoring pedestrian safety have to go so fast, McPherson laughed.


"Because they're a race team," she said.


When told about the campaign, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, also laughed.


"I laugh only because it's so stupid," said Fasano, who served as chair of the Senate's transportation appropriations committee from 2004 to 2010. "I don't see how spending $174,500 at the Daytona 500 will do anything to promote auto safety. No one in attendance will take any notice of this message."

2 comments:

  1. The track itself, as well as the race, have benefitted from tens of millions in public subsidies. In the little noticed US Court case that centered, among other things, on the appropriateness of using public monies to subsidize a sports venue, we all can learn much that applies to the Rays situation.

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  2. But yet they had cars hit spectators instead! Besides, you would think they would "donate" the section of the cars(?)!

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