SBD/Issue 86/Facilities & Venues

Facility Notes

Phoenix Int'l Raceway's Grandstand
Capacity Has Dropped By 20,000 Seats
USA TODAY's Nate Ryan reports several NASCAR tracks have "sliced their grandstand capacities by several thousand seats after a 2009 season in which attendance was flat or down at virtually every race." Among the "biggest drops" are Daytona Int'l Speedway, which decreased from 168,000 to 146,000, and Phoenix Int'l Raceway (PIR), "which dropped by 20,000 seats." ISC Exec VP & COO Roger VanDerSnick: "Phoenix is a nice market, but it's been hit hard. This is an opportunity to take valuable real estate that wasn't going to be used and turn it into amenities." PIR President Bryan Sperber said that the track "expanded seat width from 18 to 22 inches to address a frequent complaint from fans" (USA TODAY, 1/18).

NIGHT MOVES: In New Orleans, Bob Fortus noted the New Orleans' Fair Grounds Race Course held it's first night race card of the season on Friday, and the atmosphere was "part nightclub, part racetrack." Dancers in "short shorts entertained in a track-side tent while people ate oysters." A band "played in the clubhouse," and "well-dressed people mingled, drinks in hand." Attendance figures for the card "weren't available as of Saturday, but it was evident that this wasn't a typical Friday gathering." Track President Austin Miller: "I'm just as pleased as I can be. I can tell you, it's not your grandfather's racetrack. ... In terms of creating an environment or creating a vibe, it all went fantastic" (NOLA.com, 1/17).

CUTTING BACK? DAILY RACING FORM's Steve Andersen reported Santa Anita is "considering reducing its racing calendar at the current winter-spring meeting, with the possibility of running fewer races per day or one fewer day per week." Santa Anita President Ron Charles Friday said that the track is "concerned about field size after eight-race programs on Wednesday and Thursday drew 52 and 49 starters, respectively." Charles said that "ontrack handle is down" 10% and that the Southern California intertrack network is "down a 'little less'" (DRF.com, 1/15).

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