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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

Centennial Indy 500 paying off big for Speedway

May 18, 2011
KEYWORDS Sports Business

The centennial running of the Indianapolis 500 won’t be sold out, but the stands will be close to full, said Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus.

“It will look good on race day,” Belskus said. “Advance sales tickets are well ahead of last year.”

Due to the Speedway’s long-standing policy of not divulging the race’s attendance, Belskus wouldn’t say how many tickets have been sold, but he said ticket sales so far this year are nearly 7 percent ahead of last year.

“This is the best year we’ve had in terms of ticket sales in at least five years,” Belskus said. “There’s been a slight downward trend [in ticket sales] the last couple of years, but now we’ve turned the corner and we’re coming back.”

Belskus attributes this year’s increase to the excitement and additional promotions surrounding the Indianapolis 500’s centennial celebration as well as a rebounding economy.

That’s not all the good news for the Speedway.

Corporate entertaining this May is also up over last May, with all 123 IMS suites sold out for Carb Day May 27 and race day May 29.

“It’s been five years since all our hospitality inventory was sold out on those two days, so we’re very pleased,” Belskus said.

Belskus said corporate entertaining at the track has been trending up the last couple years, and he attributes that to an increase in the number of events and programs at the IMS.

“Things like emerging tech day and the celebration of automobiles has brought more people to the track and offered us a chance to do some networking and show people what we have to offer,” Belskus said.

Sponsorships for the Indianapolis 500 are up, too—more than 10 percent this year over last, Belskus said. He also expects revenue from merchandise, concessions and parking to see significant increase by the time race day is over.

With a 100th anniversary commemorative program, Belskus said program sales could be at record levels. The IMS this year struck a deal with Sports Illustrated to help produce and distribute souvenir programs nationwide.

All the increases likely add up to a multimillion-dollar revenue bump for the Speedway.

“The increase from the ticket revenue alone will be a seven-figure increase,” Belskus said.
 

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