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Allstate ends Brickyard 400 sponsorship

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Allstate Corp. is ending its five-year run as the lead sponsor of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard NASCAR race in Indianapolis, company officials announced today.

The announcement comes one day after this year’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway suffered a 20-percent attendance drop from last year’s event.

Allstate spokesman Raleigh Floyd told the Associated Press that the company's decision to end its sponsorship was not motivated by the speedway's performance. Instead, he said it arose from the insurer's desire to expand its Olympics and college football sponsorships, which includes the Sugar Bowl.

"That property performed well, extremely well in fact. Race fans are the most loyal fans in sports, probably," Floyd said. "It just so happens that some of our other sponsorships perform a little better."

Even though attendance for yesterday’s race fell to 180,000, IMS officials said they were pleased with the turnout. Sports business experts said since many of the tickets were discounted and revenue from the event was likely off 30 percent or more.

The attendance decline, sports marketers said, is related to three things: a swooning economy, waning interest in NASCAR and the tire problems that plagued last year’s race.

“It will hurt us from a revenue standpoint when it comes to the bottom line, but the long-term future of this event is secure,” IMS spokesman Ron Green this afternoon

Speedway officials said they were told by Allstate officials that the change was due primarily to the economy and the Northbrook, Ill.-based insurance company’s shifting objectives.

“Certainly the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is disappointed, but we’re understanding in light of the economy,” Green said.

Green added that IMS officials would not necessarily pursue a replacement title sponsor for the race, which was known as the Brickyard 400 before Allstate stepped in as sponsor. The parties have not disclosed how much Allstate paid as part of the sponsorship.

“Remember, we didn’t actively pursue Allstate,” Green said. “It just turned out that we had similar goals and objectives and were a good fit. The relationship proved to be very good for both of us.

“We’re not turning around and aggressively looking for a replacement.”

Green said the event was “very solid for 11 years before Allstate came aboard.”

For more on this story, see IBJ sports blog, The Score.

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