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Sports Business

Landing Stones concert would achieve three big goals for Speedway

March 19, 2015
KEYWORDS Sports Business

If the Indianapolis Motor Speedway lands a concert featuring the Rolling Stones, as is being widely speculated, that would achieve three major goals for Mark Miles.

Since becoming CEO of IMS and IndyCar Series parent Hulman & Co. in December, 2012, Miles has sought to increase revenue by almost any means possible—for instance, a solar farm; diversify the massive facility’s revenue stream—whether by hosting a vintage car race or massive concert; and to make the Speedway even more relevant to this city and region than it already is.

Snagging the Rolling Stones would certainly tick those three boxes.

Even if the aging rock band only draws 30,000 fans or so, it would still bring in a decent chunk of revenue. The IMS could handle about 60,000 for the show if it so desired.

Officials for the IMS and Rolling Stones aren’t yet commenting about the possibility of a concert.

Still, the possibility of the Stones playing at the Brickyard—possibly in July—has created a fair bit of buzz.

The fact that the IMS could draw the Rolling Stones here for the first time since 1994 shows the IMS is capable of bringing in big acts and acting as a centerpiece for this community.
Already the Speedway has shown it can bring in major musical acts in conjunction with its big auto races. Now it appears to be making a play to bring in big concerts as stand-alone events.

The elements of publicity and relevance are probably more important to Miles than the revenue at this point.

Let’s face it, as downtown Indianapolis has grown and venues like Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have emerged, and the popularity of open-wheel racing has waned, the Speedway has lost some of its luster as the crown jewel sports facility here.

Miles wants desperately to return some of that shine to the historic venue. Bringing in big acts—especially those that no one else could—would be a big coup for Miles and the Speedway staff. It could be a sign of more diversified events—and revenue streams—to come.

But this plan isn’t risk free. The concert business isn’t what it once was. The music-listening audience can be fickle, and the Stones may not have the drawing power here they did in their heyday. Don’t tell Mick Jagger the band’s heyday is over.

With all the hype over the potential concert and the billboard with the Stones trademark emerging, it’s easy to forget the last time British band came to town it didn’t sell out. In 1994 at the RCA Dome the Rolling Stones drew fewer than 30,000, and the venue was set up to seat 40,000.

But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or more appropriately, a rolling stone gathers no moss.

And Miles isn’t the type of guy to stand still.

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