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NASCAR NEWS & NOTES: GROWTH OF NASCAR EXAMINED
Published March 19, 1997
NASCAR, currently a $2B enterprise, was the subject of a three-part series by Richard Alm of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Calling NASCAR "America's fastest-growing spectator sport," Alm noted the 31-race Winston Cup series, the top tier of NASCAR, drew 5.58 million in attendance in '96, up from 3.3 million in '90, and will "top that with ease" this season. Felix Sabates, owner of three Winston Cup cars: "Every racetrack we go to is a sellout. No other sport can say that." TV ratings "set another record last year," with 111.89 million households tuning into racing on CBS, ABC, ESPN, TBS and The Nashville Network, "double the audience at the start of the decade" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/16). WHO'S BUYING? Alm wrote that "what the sponsors see in NASCAR is a legion of fans." Alm: "NASCAR chief Bill France rules the sport. Entrepreneurs operate tracks and run racing teams. ... But sponsors ultimately pay most of the bills -- for NASCAR, the tracks, the cars and the drivers" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/18). EXPANSION: Alm added expansion to "untapped markets outside the Southeast" depends on new tracks being built, and racing "doesn't get the public subsidies" that go to other sports' stadiums. Alm: "In fact, the most unforgiving impediment to expansion may well be the calendar. There are plenty of tracks and untapped markets that could sell 100,000 or more tickets to a Winston Cup contest, but with travel, holidays and a short off-season, it's difficult to add new races" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/16). FELIX & OSCAR? Calling them NASCAR's "version of the Odd Couple," Ben Blake profiles Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith and NASCAR President Bill France in the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. Blake: "The signs indicate that Smith is trying to lever[age] something from NASCAR: dates for his race tracks. He seems to believe France owes him at least one date" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/18).