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Sports Business

Despite weather, IMS rings up profit

September 15, 2008

valMotoGP’s open approach to disclosing attendance figures finally gives us a clear view on the revenue generation of an Indianapolis Motor Speedway event. IMS President Tony George and his legion of lieutenants are among the most secretive in sports when it comes to attendance figures. They won’t even disclose the venue's capacity.

MotoGP officials on the other hand were happy to tell media members that the IMS’ first MotoGP race at Indianapolis Sunday drew 91,064. Conservatively, that means the race brought in $6 million in ticket revenue alone. Friday’s practice drew 30,978 and Saturday’s qualifications attracted 52,010. Add in revenue from those two days, parking, concessions and other ancillary sales, and the first Red Bull Indianapolis GP brought in an easy $9 million. Subtract the $1 million to $2 million sanctioning fee and operating expenses for the track, and George likely came out at least  $6 million ahead. Again, this is a conservative estimate. And only four arrests over the long weekend mean the event wasn't nearly as taxing on area law enforcement agencies as the Indianapolis 500 or Brickyard 400.

Just imagine what the event's revenue might have been if the weather had been better. Sports economists and motorsports business experts agree that three sunny days could turn that 6 in the profit line upside down pretty easily.
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