Indy 500 TV ratings tick up, but Miles still has miles to go

May 27, 2014
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The IndyCar Series posted a year-over-year TV ratings improvement with Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. The uptick could be considered a validation for the myriad changes to the event made by Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles and the new staff he has assembled over the last 18 months.

The national ABC-TV audience was up about 5 percent for the 2014 Indy 500 compared to the 2013 race, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. American Ryan Hunter-Reay nipped Helio Castroneves for the victory.

The preliminary—or overnight—national rating for this year’s race, which aired on ABC, was 4.0 (4.4 million households) compared to 3.8 last year.

“Moving up a tenth of a rating point is a big deal, so moving up two-tenths of a point is really good,” said Paul Montgomery, spokesman for WRTV-TV Channel 6, Indianapolis’ ABC affiliate.

The final rating, which will be out later this week, is likely to drop. Last year’s final rating was 3.68, meaning just more than 4 million households nationwide tuned in. Numbers for the 2014 Indy 500 likely will settle between 3.9 and 3.8 once the final ratings are tabulated by Nielsen.

That means viewership for the IndyCar Series’ biggest race is probably down more than 10 percent from the 2012 race, which posted a 4.34 final rating (4.77 million U.S. households).

For the staffs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series, the result is a glass that could be half-full or half-empty.

Leading into Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, the IndyCar Series had seen a 44-percent, year-over-year increase in its TV ratings, according to Nielsen. Much of that had to do with having more races airing on network TV (ABC) this year than last, and the relatively high ratings (0.92) of the new Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

The addition of NASCAR star Kurt Busch, who finished sixth in his first Indy start, helped ratchet up national viewership for this year’s Indianapolis 500. The second-closest finish in the event’s 100-plus year history didn’t hurt either.

The local audience this year was 39-percent larger than last year, with the tape-delayed race airing Sunday eveningand earning a 12.47 rating (134,000 homes), according to Nielsen. Last year, when the race locally went up against an Indiana Pacers-Miami Heat playoff game, it earned an 8.9 rating locally. Although the tape-delayed race this year went up against NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Fox, there was no Pacers playoff game to contend with.

Although the local numbers for the tape-delayed race were strong this year, they pale in comparison to other local sporting events. For example, the Pacers playoff game May 18 on ABC earned nearly a 21 rating (more than 215,000 homes), according to Nielsen. Even the Pacers’ disappointing loss Monday night earned a 14.25 rating on ESPN. Indianapolis Colts games regularly earn ratings higher than 35.

Monday night’s Indy 500 Victory Banquet, which went up against the Pacers game, earned a 7.7 rating, according to Nielsen. That’s down 27 percent from last year’s banquet, when lots of folks tuned in to watch fan favorite Tony Kanaan take top honors.

  • Air it live locally
    I bet it aired live locally, and not delayed by several hours, more people would tune in locally.
  • Improvements
    How about pushing start up to historical time slot of 11 am start then putting on a full court press to lure the top drivers in the world to compete similar to what Kurt Busch did and Stewart in the past. Truly make Indy the best racing event again.
  • Award Winning Weekend
    Again, 12+ overnight estimates are not indicative of numbers that actually sell sponsorships and air time. If Anthony (or any pundit) wants to provide something substantive, get access to the same numbers the networks and advertising agencies use and let's examine those. They actually matter. One the most continuing humorous aspects of reading various meandering on the Internet is the way in which those with keyboards approach and 'research' random topics like attendance and ratings with the tenacity (but never the lucidity) of a grad student slaving away on a master's thesis. It is even funnier when they support claims with numbers not actually used in such commerce. But I digress. 500 weekend was fabulous. The weather was as good as it gets. There were huge crowds Friday and Sunday, and even for Saturday activities. There were no tarps anywhere. The infield was packed. The yellow shirts got people in quickly and efficiently and there was zero sign of the unmitigated entrance disaster of last year. Ratings were up. The race was actually great. An American won. The NASCAR guy showed up the Formula 1 guys. Thoroughly enjoyable. My only criticisms came after the race when I listened to the radio broadcast then watched the ESPN on ABC coverage. First, radio. Paul is sounding older and not as effusive as he used to. Whoever decided to use the 'Delta Force' needs to orient him/herself in this century and decade. The synthesized, dated piece was fine in 1986 when the movie came out, but it is now nearly 30 years old. There are thousands of better choices. Using 'Delta Force' for anything these days stretches the boundaries of abject stupidity. It is a farce. On to television. I actually liked the weird Newgarden piece and understood the point, although someone got a little exuberant with the special effects tools. Most members of the on-air staff (pits, host, Bestwick, etc.) did GREAT. Bestwick is a huge upgrade from the last few. The boat anchors remain Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. I love them both as people and respectful winner/almost winner, but their on air presence is like bags of sand that talk. Scott definitely must go. I am really tired of hearing the same exact points that I have for the past umpteen years in a row in the same monotone pace. Cheever should stay, but pair him with someone with a bombastic personality. It will elevate Cheever's game. He speaks with an intelligence and insight few have but must be drawn out. The right guy in the booth will do that. They installed the first one this year. They still need the second one. Other than that....few complaints.
    • If you break the blackout, they will lose rears in seats which is more important than tv ratings. There is a reason most pro sports do blackouts. You push the time back to 11 am and may get more trying the double. The downside is the race airs at 8am on the west coast. Lower ratings. I don't think anyone can argue that Indycar has the best racing of any major series. The last two years was some of the best running, closest racing. Has any other major series gone 370 miles+ without a yellow flag? Great stuff. While rooting for Helio to get 4 or Marco to break the curse, Hunter-Reay won a well deserved victory and will be a great face for Indycar.
    • Reality
      Kurt Busch, Montoya, JV and the all time great Buddy Lazer all added to the race. King Gomer his own self Special Ed on the pole again, last appearance by Nabors, The Indy Gran Prix and the outcome is ratings are up .1 maybe even .2? You people are getting all hot and bothered about the SECOND worst rating in the history of the sport? No wonder you keep buying the crap the Hulman-George Klan keep feeding you.
    • Burl here to weigh in...
      ...this race was impressive. The entire day was impressive. The color. The excitement. The spectacle. The amazing weather. The speed. The competition. The aura. All of it. IMS needs work. The sport needs some work. Fix IMS up, please. Rust and dust in places there shouldn't. More cars, please. Thirty-three entries is not enough. But otherwise, the Indianapolis 500 was and is the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. A monumental event. Once again. I find no quarrel.
    • No John open your eyes
      I'm seeing the REALITY of 2014 at lot better than you. You had about dozen story lines at Indy this year and combined they did almost nothing. There was even an American winner. The tiny little bump this year is just the normal little up tick in the one year up and four years down cycle that the Indy ratings have become.
    • Why does it matter?
      Just curious-why does it matter if an American won? I thought the point was to have the BEST driver on that given day win, regardless of where he/she comes from. What Formula 1 drivers are we referring to-Jacques Villeneuve? He hasn't been in a top line open wheel car in years, and Schimdts team doesn't have the resources of Andrettis. Montoya? Until this year he'd been out of open wheel since 2007. And he finished ahead of Busch. Bourdais? Right behind Kurt by about .4 sec. Kurt did a great job, no doubt, but I don't think he "showed up" anybody-what he did was show what kind of driver HE is. The "American won" sounds distinctly Xenophobic.
      • @Skeptical1
        Actually I don't care where the driver comes from but you have to admit there is has been a ton of whining that there are not enough Americans in Indycar. It's what a lot of the oldtimers point to as why the ratings are not what they used to be. I'm actually Canadian and the return of JV was news here. He got probably double the coverage that Hinch or Tags got combined on TSN and Rogers. Busch was the bigger deal and Montoya did well, without the pit lane speed penalty I bet he would have been right there. The point is there was a pile of reasons ratings should have been up a lot more than .1 of a point.
      • Indy is back
        RHR is making the winner's rounds and representing the sport like a Champ. A clean-cut, handsome, athletic, articulate, talented, American with a lovely family and EXACTLY what the old Speedway needed. He's an American boy! Great race, people had fun in the Indiana sun, and the Indianapolis 500 was THE race.
      • Irregardless of Burl's man crush
        15.3 Million Watch 140th Running of the Kentucky Derby on NBC. 9.4 National ... NBC Sports ... May 5, 2014 - NBC's coverage of the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands drew an overnight rating of 10.1 The Kentucky Derby rating of 9.7, with 16.2 million viewers. A surging crowd of more than 165,000 has broken the attendance record at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby Looks like something else is more popular
      • It does not take long to watch a 3 minute horserace. I don't think anyone has said the sport needs to do a lot to recover. Auto racing is down as a whole. NASCAR has figured out how to kill the golden goose. Now Miles needs to figure out how to convert their fleeing fans into fans of Indycar.
      • car
        major problem with indycar its the ugly car and its not really safe and its awful for sponser speedway wings help a lot make it watchble its still ugly they really need a car that made for pack racing not ugly rip off of f1 car and old indycar bumper are a mess all they had to do is to make a wider rear wing and bigger rearwing to were the wheel spin to the body of the car old rear wing was allready big so its was harder to reach rear tire and bigger wider side pod and nasa rover air bags on top of roller hoop and inside of it even weaker air bags in the side pod of the car and in front of car and back of car any way open wheel car allways be very dangerous on oval and road track it look like its a long way to the old irl days with lot of ovals since the sport is a business and has to make money and its understandble to fans ugly car is a different story
        • Huh?
          Um, huh? Ok, you think the car is ugly. A lot would agree with that. The sponsor issue bc of the car design is another thing that could be improved. But not safe? Are you high? Go back to pack racing and the old IRL car?? You do realize that pack racing resulted in Dan Wheldon's death, right? Too many cars too close together. The old "IRL" car was prone to going airborne, and it happened a ton. Dario, Marco, Dan, Will Power, all did flips in the old car. It was a design flaw. I can't even understand the rest of what you wrote, but I'll guess that you were a fan of the pack racing where the drivers were wheel to wheel for lap after lap. Well that was all great, right up until Wheldon lost his life. It was a recipe for disaster. The new car has not only proven much safer (see the decrease in crashes on ovals, especially serious ones), but it has produced some of the best racing in years. And it hasn't been pack racing. Try using punctuation next time, bc I honestly wanted to read your comment but just couldn't understand what you were getting at other than "the new cars are unsafe and ugly". Ugly, well depends on who you ask. Unsafe? No race car will ever be 100% safe, but jeez man, take a look at the stats. The new car is years ahead of the "IRL" car in terms of safety.
          • car
            The car IS ugly, more than a few would agree with that..
          • Banquet ratings
            The victory banquet ratings are falling because no one wants to hear Dave Calabro blabber on like some game show host for 2+ hours.
          • INDY
            Thoughts..need more cup drivers. Good for getting the NASCAR nation from the south to increased ratings AND the drivers are just plain design is members came up from VA and NC to watch and they loved it - they are F1 fanatics...don't compare the KY derby to Indy -Ever watched horse racing for over 3 hours? Maybe if the horses crashed.
          • TV Ratings
            I dont think Indycar needs to or should compete with NASCAR. I'm not a big NASCAR guy but NASCAR has a strong hold on TV Ratings, Money, Attendence, etc. For instance, although the Indy 500 was great this year, it still lost to the Coca Cola 600 in TV Ratings and by a a lot. The Indy 500 has around 5.9 Million viewers and the Coca Cola 600 had close 8 Million.
          • Ratings Differences
            Daytime versus Prime Time.
          • Quality versus Quantity
            Consistent with the consumption of McDonald's Hamburgers and the purchase of "Bro" Country music and/or Katy Perry records. American pop culture will always win. NASCAR wins that battle hands down and has a built-in ready and waiting pop American audience for it. NASCAR will always win the crass and class)less) race.
          • Overnights Not Yet Sleuthed Enough
            Wonder when the Internet Television Experts will get me the F-1 on NBC numbers? (LOL)
          • ESPN Promos
            It should be noted, that ESPN barely ran any promos this year for the race. I'm guessing they probably did World Cup promos instead. Again, worth noting.
          • One F1 TV point
            is worth 100 IRL tV points
          • 3.8
            Third lowest tv ratings EVER! Ugliest AOW car( and most expensive EVAH). Destroyed Indy traditions, to Milwaukee! What....
          • F1, with 1 race
            in the USA, pulls a 1.1 for a race that started at 7:00 AM central. I believe that beats any clown car race this year on ABC, with the exception of the last one.------- Source:
          • Sickening. Everywhere
            The level of drunken, obnoxious, and at times, aggressive behavior I witnessed personally throughout the weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was reprehensible. Granted, many people were simply enjoying race cars, music, pretty people, a few drinks, etc. However, far too many went far beyond that, as 211 arrests throughout the weekend, and two murders would attest. And those numbers don’t even begin to measure people barfing in the infield, stumbling into cars, and in general making abject messes of themselves. I certainly will not expose my children to what I witnessed this weekend ever again.
          • WOW
            They just let the suspect in the murder in the Coke Lot go...all because the Speedway Police botched the investigation. Also I'm hearing lots of stories about gunfire, pistol-whippings and robberies occurring at the 500. See what happens when you let MONEY come before you and your fanbase? IMS slayed the golden goose good this time! And all of you Indianapolis taxpayers let this happen with no recourse. GREAT JOB EVERYONE!
          • What Does Aberrant Behavior Have To Do With Television Ratings?
            That type of youthful behavior has always been a part of the month of May for as long as I have been going, which covers multiple decades. Puritans find ways of avoiding such behavior and it is not difficult. I choose to focus on the action on the track, which generated strong ratings (the actual topic here) and great crowds.
          • car
            oh legender myth that kcart solve the flaw design of open wheel car and none of there driver died and allways plan for the safer wall and air brakes and they were safer than the irl .on packing racing business first driver second allways been business in racing
          • Certainly you are joshing
            3.8 is the third lowest tv rating ever which follows the lowest 500 rating last year. Dreamcrusher time...are you implying aberrant doesn't affect tv ratings or attendance? I know you're old but senile too? You are defending murder and robbery at the 500 with the castoff analysis that it's just Puritan viewpoint and youthful behavior? So, for decades folks have been getting murdered and robbed at the 500? And again, you think that has nothing to do with attendance and tv ratings? Well, maybe the word needs to get out then...
          • Public Service
            I'll slow down for the Chief. IndyCar ratings are up slightly. Although the squatting, obsessed lurkers may not approve and feel compelled to chide, despite their obvious and abject ignorance of anything even remotely related to the way ratings actually work, Madison Avenue approves. The title and team sponsors approve. The millions who watched approve. The series approves. To panic and shriek like a child is to proclaim laughable cluelessness. As usual. I am still trying to stitch together the quaint connection you seem to want to establish between television ratings (which is the topic of this particular blog) and pre-race violence in the Coke lot before the race. One has nothing to do with the other in the adult world. But speaking of the Coke lot those of us who actually attended the race and stayed in the neighborhood for most of the month noticed that and all surrounding lots filled up earlier and more completely than in many years. Jam packed. There have always been drunken fights and mischief especially the night before the race. The dedicated members of law enforcement earn their money all weekend. The murder and robbery is more reflective of the demographic shifting taking place in most neighborhoods adjoining the Speedway and is generally perpetrated by those with no interest in attending the race. It is a real shame both culturally and socially but will never prevent me or any of my group from attending. We always take a stroll down Georgetown the night before the race to observe the mayhem, the drunks and the scantily clad ladies but no longer significantly join the merriment. We are happy with meat on the grill, a couple of beverages and friends on the porch. RIP to the murder victim and hopefully the robbery victim will be OK. Given the extraordinary amount of race fans clogging the west side last weekend I am surprised there was not more mayhem, as there was in less crowded other part of the country over the weekend. As for ratings, however, no one except the handful of you always lurking but never providing anything intelligent is concerned.
          • Race Was A Blast!
            Great day at IMS! Another outstanding Indianapolis 500! We had fun all day and really appreciate the true spectacle the 500-Mile Race really is. There have been 98 of them so far. There will be a 99th next May and, frankly, we can hardly wait. Greta job IMS and thank you!
          • 25/8
            The only rating that matters is that "the greatest spectacle in racing" had a lower rating than the Charlotte 600, again. The only major sporting event that has lost over 60% of it's television audience in the last 20 years is the Indy 500.
          • Here Before We Arrived; Here After We Leave
            Even the most intellectually challenged Internet Television Experts would have a hard time disputing the basic fact that programming that airs OTA in prime time draws more eyeballs that programming that runs OTA in the middle of the day. In the days when ABC tape-delayed the 500 and aired it in prime time, guess what? Ratings were about 60% higher. Logical thinkers might legitimately wonder why Charlotte's ratings are so low given their air slot. Obviously the dialog among the squatters here does not meet the minimum standards that constitute coherency. Here is a brief list of examples of things that were 100% more popular 20 years ago than today: Northwest, Continental, TWA, Pan-Am and Eastern Airlines. Polaroid. Tower Records. Blockbuster. Ritz Camera. Circuit City. Borders Books. IndyCar? Going strong since 1909.
          • Move it to primetime
            No one gives a crap about tradition at IMS...let's move the race to prime time. If it's as good as you defenders say it is, move it to 7pm on Sunday and reap the benefits. 200,000 place fans could sober up by then and would most likely be able to buy more booze which would equal more $$$ in the coffers. In fact, have a pre race concert with acts such as Eminem or Kid Rock or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That would pack em in to watch that garbage. Also, IMS should make the cars even less appealing with more winglet appendages and add two or three more turbochargers. If it's gonna be here forever let's screw it even more. Maybe then we can beat NASCARs Martinsville TV rating. Bwahahaha.
          • 25/8
            One would think that a self proclaimed media insider would realize that NFL playoff games, the Kentucky Derby, the Daytona 500 etc. all air in the middle of the day and none of these ratings have fallen 60% in the last 20 years. The list of tracks who have jettisoned the Indy car series is dwarfed only by the number of sponsors who have rejected the ICS minuscule ROI. That is the reason ICS car's sport Hartman Polo Water and Hydroxycut liveries and NASCAR has Budweiser and Lowe's.
          • Logical Thought
            Hmmm. On what traditional start of summer season holidays when 65,000,000 people are away from home do NFL playoff games, the Kentucky Derby, the Daytona 500, etc., air? Atlanta, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cleveland, Denver I, Denver II, Detroit City, Gateway, Germany, Hawaii, Houston, Las Vegas I, Laguna Seca, Las Vegas II, Meadowlands, Mexico I, Mexico II, Miami I, Miami 2, Miami 3, Miami 4, Michigan, Monterrey, Nazareth, Netherlands, Ontario, Pocono, Portland, Quebec I, Quebec II, Riverside, Road America, Sanair, San Jose, Spain, Texas, Trenton, UK I, UK II, Vancouver and Watkins Glen, presented by FedEx, Havoline, K-Mart, Bridgestone, Ford, Cosworth, Lola, Swift, Reynard, Jimmy and various primary colors. Twice. As a self-proclaimed rational thinking adult is it not obvious that IndyCar, which continues running reliably season after season, beats the rather sordid alternative of actual failure? Probably not in the whacky alternate universe of the squatters.
          • Indy Reigns.......
            ......supreme as far as monumental racing events. Huge. The rest of the series, save the few ovals they actually run, is of little interest to me. But the Indianapolis 500 was a big success this year and that is hate for the haters. They hate that it is so. And the rest of the racing world can care less about them, which they hate even more. They are nobody to the people in the sport. Bbbbbbbwwwaaaahhhaaaaaaa!!!! And those people in the sport will say so. BbbbbbwwwAAAAhhhhhaaa!!!! Everyone else is moving foward. There will be many more Indy 500s. Many. Bbbbbbbwwwwaaahhhaaaaaa!!!!!
          • Bloviator Apathy
            Now that the IRL season is over, ABC's broadcasting finale netted a 0.0 TV ratings gain over last year's Detroit hullabaloo. The Indy 500 FAILED to deliver new viewers and in fact chased 0.1 rating point away between Saturday 0.8 and Sunday 0.7. Fans just love them ugly cars! No 500 bump, no more ABC. Yep, back to 0.18's. F1 is getting 1.1's on NBCSN. Indy...IRL...the redheaded stepchild of redheaded step children. The twice dead series STILL in the lead for popularity over the sad-sack evolutionary bumpered clown cars. Bwhahahahahahah!
          • Indie
            Indy now needs to be spelled Indie as in indie movie. The latest race at Detroit proves this. It has become like the indie movie craze where the fans are claiming the racing is so good but in reality no one cares after the 500. Indie should be embraced.
          • How come Indy lights don't have bumpers?
            How come? Not enough cars? Too slow? Also, epic month here at IBJ...less articles about the month of May than I ever seen.
          • 25/8
            All of those tracks you mentioned are now historically part of the ICS* history with the "amalgamation". However you need to add Nashville, Nazareth, Baltimore, Michigan, Loudon, Kentucky, Disney, Pikes Peak, Loudon, Texas II, Atlanta, Richmond, Pep Boys, Northern Lights Out, Izod and Tony George, twice. All failed due to the rudderless failed business model of the hapless IRL*/ICS*.
          • Hell I didn't even know
            there has been 3 more IRl races since the only one that matters. Someone should tell their media partners' local affiliates.
          • Texas TV Ratings DROP 64%!!!
            BWAHHAHHAHHAHA! Are you kidding me? Texas is almost gone in the year of Aldean and Hagar! Wooot! Let's party like it's 1999! PLUS, F1 Canadian GP got a 1.1 rating! Doesn't this just solidify that Indy is nothing but a place fan paradise with murderers shooting the 3 sided ghetto up? Early season gains are dropping rapidly for the clown car series. Mark Miles, I expect your resignation on my desk by NOON! LOL
            • Remember the Alamo!
              Because there were moe people there than at TMS Saturday night. RM states less than 30,000. Bbbwwwwaaaaaahhaaaa!!!!! Well, I can understand. We know who butters his bread these days. Less than 20,000 is the truth. Maybe more like 15,000, MAYBE 16,000 for an event than used to get 80,000 to 90,000. But Eddie is happy to have them back next year because hey, 13,000 will be better than ZERO right? At least they can pay the utility bill. Bbbwwwaaahhaaaaaaaa!!!!! IndyCar will not have to worry about theirs because we are talking lights out, baby! No wait! Miles is talking Dubai now! That will assuredly get folks in Dubuque fired up! Looking good.....looking good.......I'll bet Houston is a madhouse! And two races! Good thing they are holding the big races where there is plenty of parking! Bbbwwwaaaahhaaaa!!!!!!!
            • Track-Rentals-R-US
              How's that going to look on the crapwagons
            • ChIefs desk is
              the counter at McDonalds. So please be warned. LOL
            • Publicity
              Over at the IRL's official favorite internet fan forum there's plenty of heated discussion about the rampant violence that occurred in the three days leading up to the 500. Anthony, this can't be good for business having murders, assaults and larcenies occurring at high rates during 500 week, can it? I think the bigger question here is why haven't you written about it yet? The 'hush hush' is becoming public as more and more people speak out. Alarming stories are being told of beatings and robberies. Not good for business and not safe for the public.
            • Whackforum?
              Chief, you mean the IndyCar Series fan base right? That's almost the entirety of it. And what a great bunch they are! I haven't been over there in awhile. Funny. They are concerned about all the crime in Indy? I thought they got all apoplectic about whether the driver's "get it" about Indy and who sings Back Home Again In Indiana next year, and whether or not the bottle of milk is consumed properly and what an outrage it is Bobby Rahal didn't like milk. Bbwwwwwwaaahaaaaaaa!!!!!!

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            Sponsored by
            1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

            2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

            3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

            4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

            5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.