SBD/February 19, 2013/Facilities

Indianapolis Motor Speedway May Consider Naming Rights For Track, Indianapolis 500

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IMS potentially could make $10-15M from a naming-rights deal
Under new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway "appears poised to part with long-held traditions -- including refusing to sell naming rights -- to achieve state-of-the-art status," according to sports business execs cited by Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that Miles is "prepared to make other departures with tradition to pull the outdated venue into the modern era." Schoettle notes IMS will "need far more money than it will get from a proposed tax subsidy if it hopes to be in the top tier of U.S. racing venues." That could mean "putting ads where none have existed before ... or a title or presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500." IMS President & CEO Jeff Belskus said, "We're certainly looking for ways to generate more revenue, but I have trouble envisioning a day we change the name of this facility." Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Kenley said that IMS "had no option but to seek state assistance." But sports marketers said that IMS is "sitting on tens of millions of dollars in advertising inventory." Indiana-based Just Marketing Int'l Founder & CEO Zak Brown said that a naming-rights deal "could fetch" $10-15M annually. Though Brown said that he would "be hesitant to sell the naming rights to" the Indy 500, he added that doing so "could generate" another $3M annually. Last year was the "first time the Speedway placed any ads on the walls encircling the 2-1/2 mile oval." IEG Senior VP/Editorial Dir Jim Andrews said that naming-rights deals "for prominent locations such as Victory Circle and pit lane could generate big money." He added that an "upgraded video board system would open another sponsorship avenue." Belskus said that there "have been no serious talks about such a deal" (INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/18 issue).

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED...: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller wrote it is "not fair that we lose good teachers every year while sports flourish with government assistance." Having "said that, IMS has driven more money for the Indianapolis' business community in 100 years than all of our sports teams combined." Miller: "Asking for help once a century (and paying back a portion of it annually) doesn't bother me." Had former IndyCar CEO Tony George "not spent millions and millions on the IRL, F1, airplanes, helicopters, marketing firms, Gene Simmons and Vision Racing, then IMS wouldn't need or ask for assistance" (SPEEDTV.com, 2/16).
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