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City expects weather to boost MotoGP's economic impact

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Sunny, mild weather this weekend will likely boost the economic impact for this weekend’s MotoGP motorcycle event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Favorable weather could push the economic impact for the three-day MotoGP event up 15 percent, said Tim Frost, president of Frost Motorsports, a Chicago-based motorsports business consultancy.

“This is the type of event that not only draws an international audience, but draws a regional audience of large motorcycle groups who will ride into Indianapolis if the weather is right,” Frost said. “Although the race is run rain or shine, the weather forecast can make all the difference for an event like this from an economic impact standpoint.”

Three days of activities surrounding the race start Friday, and local tourism officials expect more than 100,000 visitors to turn up for the festivities, including the fourth running of the main event, which starts at 2 p.m. Sunday.

IMS officials said they expect attendance to be on par with, or maybe slightly above, what it was for the race last year when the weather was overcast with patchy rain for the three days.

“[On Thursday] we’re already seeing big groups on motorcycles in Speedway,” said IMS spokesman Doug Boles. “The weather is supposed to be good, and that’s significant because the walk-up ticket sales for the MotoGP race are more percentage-wise than we experience for either the Brickyard 400 or Indianapolis 500.”

The Speedway has had some difficulty with declining attendance for the event.

A total of 136,184 spectators attended the three days of action at the Speedway in 2010, with 62,794 attending the feature race, according to MotoGP officials. That fell from 75,130 in 2009, when the combined total for the weekend was 146,680. The three-day total for the first event in 2008 was about 170,000, according to MotoGP officials.

Still, the economic impact to the region is significant, said Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association spokesman Chris Gahl.

“It’s not just the quantity of the visitors, but the quality of the visitors,” Gahl said. “We know this is a very affluent, travel-prone audience. These are the types of people who could steer conventions or other corporate business here. It’s a very appealing audience from an economic and branding standpoint.”

Groups from France, Germany, Australia and Canada are descending on the city, Gahl said.

According to ICVA figures, Indianapolis’ downtown hotel occupancy rate is 80 percent on Friday and 97 percent on Saturday.

“The MotoGP race is definitely pushing those [occupancy] rates,” Gahl said.

Several vendors setting up near the track on Thursday told IBJ they each expect to sell between $150,000 and $200,000 in merchandise during the three-day event.

New attractions this year include the IMS After Dark, which will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and feature live bands, fireworks, food and merchandise vendors, motorcycle displays, and demonstrations and other activities.

This will also be the first year that the Speedway’s MotoGP weekend has featured a race for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. This will be the first time a Harley has raced at the IMS since 1909.

This weekend also will mark another first, as Shelina Moreda becomes the first woman to race a motorcycle at the Speedway.

Away from the track, the annual Motorcycles on Meridian event Friday and Saturday nights is expected to draw tens of thousands of bikers downtown each of those nights.

A motorcycle race scheduled for Saturday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds has been canceled because of the fatal stage collapse Aug. 13. The Indy Mile AMA Pro Racing Flat Track Grand National was to be held on the track at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, but debris strewn across the area from the stage collapse will prevent the race from being run.

Tourism experts think the Fairgrounds race cancellation will have a minimal impact on the number of visitors to Indianapolis and Speedway this weekend.

Though the ICVA has not yet calculated an economic impact number for the event, motorsports business experts pegged the three-day impact at $25 million to $30 million.

By comparison, the estimated economic impact of the Big Ten Football championship to be played in Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 3 is $17.7 million.
IMS President Jeff Belskus wouldn’t say if the event is profitable, only saying, “It’s a good event for us.”

Part of the event’s appeal for the Speedway, Belskus said, is that it draws “a very different demographic” than the Brickyard 400 or Indianapolis 500.
“It’s another way to increase exposure for our facility,” Belskus said.

The MotoGP is held at the Speedway on a one-year contract, and Boles said the two sides are currently in negotiations to hold the race in 2012.

“We’d certainly like to have this event again,” Boles said. “We hope to have an announcement in September.”

 

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  • Good new for Indy!
    I will be heading to the race all weekend with two of my friends who are from out of state. I hope this returns again next year so we can make this an annual event!

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

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