Monday, February 18, 2013

IBJ's Story Claiming IMS Is Losing Out To Other Race Tracks Is Total Fiction

The IBJ's Anthony Schoettle penned an editorial masquerading as a news story in the latest edition of the business publication making the case that Indiana taxpayers should be compelled to give up to $100 million in public funds to the Hulman-owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway. According to Schoettle's misleading story, the IMS has been "left in the dust" by other U.S. race tracks, claiming the largest race track in the world ranks "in the lower half among U.S. tracks in terms of amenities." Without substantiation, Schoettle cites so-called experts as claiming the IMS "has not had anywhere near the level of investment expected by fans at other facilities like Daytona, Charlotte and Las Vegas." Apparently Schoettle never bothered to read archived stories he and his fellow reporters have written in the past about investments the Hulman family has made in improvements to the IMS over the past 15 years that easily exceed the $100 million that Speedway officials now claim they must make at the track to keep it competitive with other tracks.

The IBJ story cites future plans by Daytona to invest up to $200 million more on improvements, including expanded grandstand seating, another pedestrian bridge, five new entrances and replacing garage walls with glass partitions to allow fans to watch "behind-the-scenes" work on cars. I emphasize the comparison to amenities at other tracks because that's the green with envy meme of "keeping up with the Joneses" that these greedy bastards employ as an excuse for convincing government leaders to pry open the public treasury for their privately-owned professional sports endeavors. More importantly, what Schoettle's story fails to mention is that many of those upgrades at Daytona have not occurred yet, and that the track's owners are hoping to get Florida taxpayers to pick up at least part of that tab. In fact, there's a big push on by all of Florida's professional sports team organizations to tap the public spigot to make hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements to their respective facilities, including first-time subsidies for professional soccer team franchises and the Daytona International Speedway. As the Field of Schemes reported:
The help for a future Orlando soccer team comes in addition to a request by the Miami Dolphins NFL team for help with stadium renovations, and the speaker of the House said Wednesday that he expects other bills to be filed to provide help for renovations to Daytona Beach International Speedway and for the Jacksonville Jaguars to make renovations at EverBank Field.
Equally as important, Shoettle's story conveniently overlooks the fact that fans are staying away from those so-called better tracks in droves despite his baseless claim that they've left the IMS in the dust. detailed the precipitous drop in attendance at these supposedly better tracks just last year:
The green flag dropped on Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race with all 57,000 seats in Daytona International Speedway’s backstretch grandstands empty.
With decreased demand, NASCAR’s most famous track never offered those seats for sale, in stark contrast to the days when sellouts were routine at Daytona and most other tracks on racing’s premier Sprint Cup series.
NASCAR, which has a big footprint in the Charlotte area and was once viewed as the country’s fastest-growing pro sport, continues to grapple with perhaps its most troubling ongoing challenge: declining ticket sales.
Actual NASCAR attendance figures are difficult to come by, but according to securities filings, ticket sales revenue fell by 38 percent over the past five years at its three publicly traded companies, which host 35 of the 38 race weekends – 36 points races and two special events . . .
“Things aren’t perfect and easy, no,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Friday. “But a lot of people would like to have our problems.”
Securities filings for NASCAR’s track owners for 2006 through 2011 show:
• Charlotte’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. has lost more than a quarter of its admission revenue, falling to $130 million.
• NASCAR’s largest track operator, Daytona Beach-based International Speedway Corp., has lost more than 40 percent of its ticket revenue, falling to $144 million. Earlier this week, ISC reported an increase in admission revenue over the first six months this year (from $66 million last year to $69.9 million), but that included an additional race (at Kansas), moved from later in the season.
• Dover Motorsports Inc., which runs tracks in Delaware (including Dover International Speedway) and Nashville, Tenn., has been hit the hardest, with admission revenue falling nearly 60 percent, to $13.6 million last year.
Not all of the figures reported are entirely NASCAR revenue, but the annual reports note that the declines are almost all due to NASCAR events.
Figures for a NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and two at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, both privately held, are not available.

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FYI--the figures for Charlotte's Speedway Motorsports, Inc., encompass nine tracks, including Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas, Las Vegas, Bristol, New Hampshire, Sonoma, Kentucky and North Wilkesboro. Whatever these other so-called better tracks have spent or not spent on making their facilities better, it has failed miserably in attracting or merely retaining existing fans who traditionally attend annual race events held at those notes that the Charlotte Speedway even removed a large block of seats at the track and replaced it with an area to park luxury motor homes to deal with the embarrassing problem of having so many unfilled seats in the stands. Charlotte and Dover have also both used large advertising tarps with advertising logos to cover up empty stands. It is simply unconscionable for local news organizations like the IBJ and the Indianapolis Star, along with all the local TV news stations, to simply repeat the lies propagated by the Hulman family's new CEO, Mark Miles, a pathological liar who will spew anything necessary to push taxpayer-funding of professional sports.

The bottom line is that the local news media has a financial stake in seeing public funds invested in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They all make money covering events held at the IMS. They are making no effort to provide any objective news analysis to their readers and viewers. We are on our own to appeal to our state legislators sense of fairness in refusing to provide $100 million in public subsidies to one of the state's wealthiest families for their privately-owned business. I have little hope that they will care what you think, however, because they've all been bribed by hundreds of thousands of dollars the IMS and Hulmans have doled out to them in campaign contributions over the past several years, along with free tickets to every single event at the IMS and free drinks and food furnished to them in the suites at the IMS throughout the month of May. How can us useless taxpayers compete with that? We don't have anything to stick in the politicians' pockets so they can just tell us to buzz off.

1 comment:

Downtown Indy said...

Funny. Las Vegas? They have a very hard time keeping racing going there.

In typical Vegas fashion, they have signes up around the LVMS proclaiming it to be the world wide capital of racing, or something along those lines. I haven't been there in a few years. Went there to a couple IRL races, before they got dropped.