SBD/Issue 56/Facilities & Venues

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage Sits For Q&A

Eddie Gossage Addresses
Motorsports Forum
The final day of the ninth annual SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal Motorsports Marketing Forum at the Westin at Times Square in N.Y. featured a Q&A with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage.

Q: With the changing economy, what adaptations are you making?

Gossage: We’re reducing the capacity of Texas Motor Speedway by 15%. We’re taking out 21,000 seats. We also announced plans to replace those seats on the back of the speedway with luxury motor coach spots. We only have to sell 74 of those and we’ll make more money than we would have (with the seats).

Q: How do NASCAR costs impact the bottom line?

Gossage: Every time you talk to NASCAR it costs you. I hear a lot that NASCAR has nothing to do with the price of tickets. Nothing could be further from the truth. The biggest check we write throughout the course of the year is to NASCAR for the sanction fee. They have a direct effect on the price of every single ticket you sell.

Q: Has NASCAR raised the sanctioning fee?

Gossage: I think for 2009 they were flat, to their credit. But there have been many years -- year after year -- where it has gone up 20%.

Q: Is it the same type of situation with the Indy Racing League?

Gossage: Up until the last couple of years, we were paying by far the largest sanction fee. I personally think any sanction fee should be the same across the board. Why should we pay more for an IndyCar race? ... We’ve pretty much held flat over the last two or three years. But my argument would be it was already so high. 

Q: How do you stand against other sports in the Dallas area?

Gossage: The Cowboys are the Cowboys. But after that I absolutely refuse to take a back seat to the Rangers or the Mavericks, the Stars, the golf tournaments.

Q: What changes would you like to see the Indy Racing League make to boost interest?

Gossage: The Indy Racing League has been opposed to any of my suggestions to the point of it being personal. I love IRL. To me there are some obvious things they can do. I want it to succeed in the worst way possible. As a track promoter, all of us as track promoters need more racing. Indy racing should be wildly successful.

Q: What do fans tell you is the most important experience about going to the racetrack?

Gossage: Traffic, tickets and toilets. Getting them in and out quickly, having plenty of parking, friendly folks at the gate, clean restrooms, seats that have a back to them, cup holders, plenty of legroom. There was a reason why we built Texas Motor Speedway.

Q: What do you think of the Car of Tomorrow?

Gossage: From a safety standpoint, a plus. Costs -- you’d have to ask the teams. On competition, the No. 1 letter I get is that the races aren’t nearly as good as they used to be. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. But the perception is reality. The reality is the fans have given the car an 'F' in competition.

Gossage Would Like More Driver Appearances
Q: Since NASCAR banned testing, should NASCAR promote more driver appearances for the tracks?

Gossage: Absolutely. The thing I need more is drivers in my town. I need drivers in my market.

Q: The economy may create smaller fields. As a promoter, do you have any trouble at all selling 36 cars on the track?

Gossage: I don’t, but the media will make a huge to-do out of it. It was just a few years ago that we didn’t have full fields in Cup racing. I don’t think that’s a big deal. Thirty cars at Bristol (Motor Speedway) is better than 43 cars at Bristol. With 43 cars you can’t just move around. I don’t think it’s a big deal. But the media will make a big deal of it, therefore it’s a big deal.

View more conference coverage, including one-on-one interviews with IRL CEO Tony George and NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France.  

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