UPDATE: Indy 500 to run with stands at 50% capacity, IMS officials say


Indianapolis Motor Speedway is moving forward with plans to run the Indianapolis 500 in August, but plans to do so with a 50% capacity limit for the venue.

The decision follows weeks of speculation about whether the race might be bumped from its Aug. 23 slot because of concerns over COVID-19.

The race was moved from its original May 24 race date because of the pandemic, but track and IndyCar series owner Roger Penske said in early June the race would only occur with fans in the stands, even if it meant moving it to October.

Doug Boles, president of IMS, said the racetrack is taking extra precautions to ensure the risk of COVID-19 to fans is mitigated, working closely with local and state health officials.

“We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50 percent of venue capacity, and we are also finalizing a number of additional carefully considered health and safety measures,” Boles said in a statement to IBJ. “We’ll unveil the specific details of our comprehensive plan in the coming weeks.”

IMS said it is communicating with existing ticketholders and offering credits to those who choose to adjust their plans. It’s also encouraging high-risk populations to not attend this year’s event.

About 175,000 tickets—most of them renewals—have been sold for the race, IMS confirmed to IBJ. Ticket requests are still being accepted, going into a queue for fulfillment after existing ticketholders have been accommodated.

“Customer response from today’s message will inform our final gameplan,” an IMS spokesperson said. “It’s important for us to determine what percentage of our current ticketholders plan to attend the race in order to finalize our full plan for Race Day.”

IMS is hosting NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 and the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix on Independence Day weekend without fans.

Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, said it is a “relief” to see IMS moving forward with fans in the stands.

“We applaud [IMS’s] thoughtful decision to ensure the health and safety of all the visitors and fans who want to enjoy the iconic Indy 500 experience,” he said. “Arriving at this decision was not easy, but still allows for visitors to arrive and the tradition to continue.”

He said the decision will be a boon for the city at a time it desperately needs an infusion of visitor spending, after months of being without major sporting events and conventions and a tattered slate of events on the horizon.

He said hosting the Indianapolis 500 even at 50% capacity will help businesses with a boost in revenue and give meeting planners an opportunity to showcase the city to prospective groups. It will also likely mean a boost in tax revenue for the city and state, including the Capital Improvement Board, which operates the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Patrick Tamm, president of the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, said he too is appreciative of the decision to move forward with fans.

“It’s a huge thing for the city, and it’s a huge thing for the sport and the community,” he said.

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5 thoughts on “UPDATE: Indy 500 to run with stands at 50% capacity, IMS officials say

    1. As stated in the Indianapolis Star:

      Despite a cap on this year’s race attendance, Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said IMS has no plans to lift the local market broadcast blackout that has for decades prevented Indy-area fans from watching the race live on TV every year except for 1949, 1950 and 2016. “I think you should not contribute to fans expecting there to be a lifting of the blackout,” Miles told IndyStar. “(Local fans) should assume that it’s delayed, that you can see it later in the day in this market.”

  1. Little do they tell you the 500 won’t be giving any refunds, but rather a credit that has to be used by 2023. We have over 10k in many different events there but WE need that money back ! NOT via A CREDIT, IBJ please write an article about them keeping fans hard-earned money hostage for 3 years…

  2. I am starting a capitalist revolution to push my Racing Fans Matter movement.

    Code of Ethics:

    We will show up with ticket or money in hand to purchase a ticket
    We will purchase food and beverage or bring our own, no stealing other peoples goods
    We will not burn, loot, or break anything intentionally, we might steal a sign with the wings and wheels logo though, just saying.
    We will not incite violence with or on others, unless there are large quantities of Jack Daniels and it will be 2 idiots arguing over some drunk chick.
    We will peacefully assemble, per the 1st amendment
    We will respect management request to not practice the 2nd Amendment will on the hollowed grounds
    We will attempt to maintain our debris in a confined area, we still support local organizations to clean the grandstands.
    If the code does not address an issue we will refer to common decency and respect