SBD/October 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Columnist Feels Tony George Purchasing IndyCar Would Cause "Massive" Backlash

Columnist believes George's purchase of the IndyCar series would be "bad business"
If former IndyCar CEO Tony George purchases the racing series, the backlash “would be massive and felt at the box office, as well as the TV ratings, which are already on life support,” according to Robin Miller of SPEEDTV.com. Miller fielded several questions related to George's reported takeover effort in his weekly online mailbag. Miller: "If the board does its due diligence, doesn’t it have to look at the bottom line and see how it’s improved since Randy Bernard took over? I can’t see how they would consider separating the series from Indianapolis [Motor Speedway] as a sound business decision.” IndyCar team owners John Barnes, Kevin Kalkhoven and Michael Andretti were reportedly aligned against Bernard, but Andretti has "had a change of heart and made some kind of peace with Bernard.” Team owners Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi “understand how unpopular [George] is with the open-wheel fan and why this would be bad business.” Miller: "The one glaring omission from the last couple ‘IndyCar isn’t for sale’ press releases [is that they] have not included any vote of confidence for Randy and that concerns me. I don’t trust some of those directors any more than I do [George] running the show” (SPEEDTV.com, 10/24).

TRANSPARENCY PLEASE: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle wrote it is "time that the Hulman-George board lift the blinds and let their fans, investors and other supporters in on what’s being done to address sliding television ratings, small race crowds and sponsorship challenges" facing IndyCar. It is "far past time to let potential sponsors and investors know that this sport has a future -- a real, long-term, blueprint-driven future." This is the "sort of uncertainty that makes sponsors and other potential investors run for the hills." Schoettle: "Nothing kills sales faster than uncertainty. Especially when that uncertainty pertains to the product being sold." That is why IndyCar "finds itself -- once again -- in a less-than-ideal growth position this off-season." Perhaps it is "time for a little transparency." More than a "few people -- and not just open-wheel diehards -- say IndyCar is the best on-track product in racing right now." But "no one is really talking much about the good stuff." That is because the series' progress is "being overshadowed by the ivory-tower antics that make the sport seem like more of a circus" (IBJ.com, 10/24).
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