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Indy 500 general admission ticket prices soar on secondary market

May 26, 2016

Indianapolis 500 general admission ticket prices on the secondary market soared Wednesday and Thursday in the wake of the announcement that the race has been completely sold out.

General admission tickets available at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway box office for $40 as late as Tuesday afternoon were selling for more than triple that amount on the secondary market by Wednesday morning. 

Speedway officials announced at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday that general admission tickets—about 75,000 of them—were sold out for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Earlier this month, IMS officials announced all reserved seats for the May 29 race were sold. The sellout prompted officials to lift the local TV blackout of the race.

“Prices started rising quickly at 9 a.m., and by midday, the price for general admission tickets was hovering around the $145 range,” said Renny Harrison, owner of Carmel-based FanFare Tickets. 

Harrison told IBJ his company took more than twice as many calls as it normally would on a typical day in the week before the Indianapolis 500, with an even split of people from in and out of state ordering tickets.

Mike Peduto, president of locally based Circle City Tickets, said his shop also was busier than normal on Wednesday.

“We’ve never seen anything like this for the Indianapolis 500,” Peduto said. “In the past, we’ve hardly ever sold general admission tickets for the race. There’s just been so little demand [on the secondary market]. Now we’re selling them for well over double face value.”

General admission ticket prices on StubHub Thursday morning ranged from $156 to $173. Peduto thinks ticket prices for this year’s Indy 500 could go even higher.

“The wild card is the weather,” Peduto said. “If the weather is good, then yes, I think demand could increase—possibly significantly. If they’re calling for a 70 [percent] to 80 percent chance of rain, that will hurt demand.”

One thing that won’t hurt demand, he said, is the fact that the race is being broadcast live locally—on WRTV-TV Channel 6—for the first time in 66 years.

“It’s not like the Colts games before we had Peyton Manning,” Peduto said. “When the TV blackout for those games was lifted, ticket sales fell off a cliff. For this historic race, it shouldn’t have any impact."

“The race is not something you can fully experience on TV,” Peduto added. “There are just so many people who feel they have to be there to experience the 100th running. People I talk to are acting like the fact that it’s on TV doesn’t even matter.”

Ticket prices for reserved seats on the secondary market also remain strong, brokers said.

Overall, ticket prices for the Indy 500 are higher than Harrison has ever seen in his 27 years as a ticket broker.

Tickets in the fourth turn and front stretch with a face value in the $100-$120 range are selling for as high as $375, Harrison said. Penthouse seats with a face value of $200 are going as high as $600, he added.

“We’ve sold a few tickets in the $1,250 to $1,500 range and a couple as high as $1,750,” Harrison said. “The number of calls we’ve taken is double this month compared to other Mays. But the biggest difference is the price point is much higher than it’s been in many, many years.”

Peduto’s Circle City Tickets has sold a handful of tickets for as high as $2,000.

StubHub's cheapest price for a reserved-seat ticket Thursday morning was $190 for Row 36H in the Northeast Vista. It's most expensive tickets were $9,500 in the Paddock area near the start/finish line.

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