Since last year’s Indianapolis 500, thousands of grandstand seats overlooking Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been removed.
Gone, too, are several rows of seats on the front straightaway, reducing capacity at the venerable venue by another couple of thousand.
Those alterations follow the removal of the First Turn Terrace, a bleacher section that five years ago sat on the inside of Turn 1. It was torn down to extend the IMS road course.
The result of the changes means the May 26 Indy 500 will have the smallest seating capacity since 2000, the last time the Speedway had a major makeover.
In 2004, The Indianapolis Star inspected the world’s largest sports facility and counted 257,325 seats. Today, that figure is at 235,000.
That’s an estimated 11,600 seats removed in the North and Northeast Vistas, 5,136 gone in the Turn 1 infield and the loss of the low-row seats.
It adds up to nearly a 10 percent reduction in capacity, although IMS officials declined Wednesday to reveal the actual total, a closely guarded secret since Tony Hulman bought the facility in 1945 . . .I guess the fact that IMS officials had already resigned themselves to smaller track attendance was of no importance to the Star's readers as lawmakers debated whether to give them $100 million in public subsidies to make improvements to the track. The odds are very good that any improved viewing stands will mean an even larger contraction in the seating capacity of the track.