Thinking Charlotte? Think NASCAR

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NASCAR, Charlotte
Groups visiting Charlotte often build a trip to the track into the agenda.

When people think of Charlotte, they think of NASCAR. Whether it’s a themed event in a ballroom or a trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the majority of groups build racing into their agenda. “We have brought in NASCAR drivers to mingle with groups, which is exciting,” says Kristen Prestwood, owner of Spark by Design Events (formerly Sterling Events Group).

The raceway’s Speedway Club, with its all-glass panoramic view of the world-famous track, is available for buyouts, with 13,000 sf of event space. There are also two 23,000-sf infield event venues. The location in Concord is an easy 15-minute transfer from the convention center.

Back in town, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is located right next to the Convention Center. Its Great Hall accommodates groups of all sizes, up to 2,400 attendees, who can dine while sitting right next to a NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee’s car and explore the exhibits in private after hours. There’s also a 278-seat theater.

Another uniquely Charlotte experience is a visit to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where the U.S. Olympic teams come to train. “It’s the perfect outdoorsy experience for teambuilding or an incentive program,” says Prestwood. Groups can go whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and ziplining on the 700-acre campus.

Charlotte’s mansion tours are popular for spouse programs, with guides painting a picture of life on the Antebellum Plantations of the 1800s. Plantations such as Latta Plantation at Sims Legion Park and Rosedale Plantation in can also be rented for group events that include re-enactors and period entertainment.

The Charlotte Convention Center has 85,000 sf of meeting space, and groups of up to 2,000 often use the nearby open-air Pavilion at EpiCentre for events. The 300-room Le Meridien, formerly The Blake and Adam’s Mark, reopened in December after a multi-million dollar redesign inspired by the culture of Uptown Charlotte. It is located in a two-tower complex adjacent to a 305-room Sheraton that re-opened in 2014, and both properties share a 55,000-sf of event space.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.