Local hotels report May dip after Indy 500 attendance lags

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Lower attendance at this year’s Indianapolis 500 appears to be reflected in lower hotel occupancy and revenue in May in Marion County—especially in the outlying areas.

Last year marked the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, and for the first time in decades the race sold out. The crowd this year was strong, IMS officials said, but short of last year’s blockbuster crowd, estimated at 350,000. Multiple sources ballparked this year’s crowd slightly below 300,000.

During the month of May this year, 474,882 hotel room nights in Marion County were sold. That was down 13,005 rooms, or about 2.7 percent, compared to May 2016, according to figures recently released by Visit Indy.

Year-over-year hotel revenue in Marion County in May was down more than $1.5 million, or about 2.6 percent, to $59.3 million.

While the number of downtown hotel room nights sold during May actually increased by 1 percent—from 180,703 in 2016 to 182,439 in 2017—the broader county didn’t do so well.

“Downtown is always going to fill up during the Indianapolis 500,” explained Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops. “When the attendance of the race isn’t so high, you don’t have as much compression to those areas further out. Last year, we had an awful lot of compression. This year was still good, just not quite as good as last year.”

This May, 292,443 hotel room nights outside of downtown in Marion County were sold. That was down nearly 5 percent, or about 15,000 hotel room nights, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Year-over-year revenue outside of downtown in May was down more than $1.6 million, or 5.5 percent. Revenue for non-downtown hotels was $27.8 million this May, according to Visit Indy.

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