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Questions Raised About Dover’s Ability to Host Two NASCAR Weekends Per Year
Posted By Dennis Foley On July 6, 2014 @ 1:29 am In Dover,Sports | Comments Disabled
NASCAR Chairman Brian France answered questions during a media availability in Daytona on a broad variety of issues and the topic of Dover International Speedway’s attendance arose.
NASCAR VP of Communications Brett Jewkes was handling the questioning and asked the chairman about the importance of fan attendance at the race track and whether that really matters with big TV and media contracts covering the race.
“Promoters will always worry about selling tickets, but with the TV package seemingly really healthy, does the series at large worry about empty grandstands except for the fact it doesn’t look good on television?” asked Jewkes.
“Sure, we do, and listen, that’s one of the reasons Daytona is making a big investment, to accomplish that, and a lot of other tracks are, too,” responded France. “Some markets are just more challenged. Some are doing better than they did last year, so it’s a mixed bag a little bit. Balanced attendance is up.”
France continued, “Now, there are some markets that have had a lot of pressure, and Dover is one of those. But it’s very important because you’ve got to remember something, too: Unfortunately for our industry, the speedways don’t enjoy the public financing component that almost all major sports enjoy. That’s a big difference. So Daytona’s $400 million, and it’ll be more than that when it’s all said and done, when you factor all that in, that’s private – they have to make those investments. We’re hoping that that gets better balanced over time; in other words, that communities, local governments and so on and states will help grow these facilities like they do other stadiums and arenas.”
Other journalists then revisited Dover and other tracks struggling with attendance asking France how long NASCAR will let tracks go with multiple race dates and no improved attendance.
“Well, we don’t have a timetable on that, and we don’t like to think of it that way,” answered France. “We like to think that historically important events work themselves out over time, and some of that is on us, too. I mean, we’ve got to constantly figure out how to make our racing tighter, better. I mean, that’s why I spent so much time today telling you that we are zeroed in on that.
“I think we don’t put a timeline on that,” France continued. “We’re working with our track operators, the ones that have more challenges than others, and we’ll just have to work through it and try to get a good outcome.”
During the media availability, France also talked a bit about the future of other tracks, like Iowa possibly getting a Sprint Cup Series race, whether Cup drivers should be limited in their lower level series participation, and doing some more international races.
Regarding Iowa and a possible schedule revamp, France said a Sprint Cup race in Iowa is not in the immediate future with the track having both IndyCar and the Nationwide Series running there. The schedule is getting a close look and could see a major revamp in 2015.
With Sprint Cup drivers participating in lower level series, France said, “Look, I said earlier we have to balance that. It’s true that if a Cup driver dominates in a lower division, it’s understandable why people will shake their head, and we understand that. As I said, we balance that against the idea that fans like to see the younger drivers with the veterans, and the younger drivers, most of them, almost all of them, like to figure out where they’re at on the skill curve. So that’s good for them to compete against, and it’s unique to motorsports. That’s how it’s always been. But we have to balance all this, and we’ll do the best we can as we go along.”
The NASCAR chairman also noted that the organization is always looking at way to expand the sport’s brand to other countries and have enjoyed running races in Montreal and Mexico City.
(Photo by: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images [Provided by NASCAR])
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