SBD/May 16, 2013/Facilities

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Has Lowest Seating Capacity Since '00

Several rows of seats on the front stretch at IMS were removed
Since last year’s Indianapolis 500, thousands of grandstand seats “overlooking Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been removed,” and the result means the May 26 race “will have the smallest seating capacity since 2000, the last time the Speedway had a major makeover,” according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Also gone are “several rows of seats on the front straightaway, reducing capacity at the venerable venue by another couple of thousand.” Those alterations “follow the removal of the First Turn Terrace, a bleacher section that five years ago sat on the inside of Turn 1.” IMS in ’04 had “257,325 seats,” compared to today’s figure “at 235,000.” It adds up to “nearly a 10 percent reduction in capacity.” But IMS officials yesterday declined “to reveal the actual total, a closely guarded secret since Tony Hulman bought the facility in 1945.” Still, the third year of an infield party area in Turn 3 -- known as “the Snake Pit -- should bring 10,000 who weren’t there previously.” Cavin writes fans should “expect a crowd of approximately 250,000 on race day.” Some seats are “better than others, and in some locations,” Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles sees the “need for cushioned chairs instead of hard bleachers that squeeze people into 18- and 22-inch boundaries.” Currently, only about “2 1/2 percent of the IMS seating capacity have outdoor chairs -- there are 5,200 of them -- and they’re only in corporate suites overlooking the exit of Turn 4.” Miles also “wants more places for group entertainment that have views of the track, party decks of sorts.” That was the “drive behind removing the parts of the North and Northeast Vista sections” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/16).

BY BUS OR BOAT: In Detroit, Mike Brudenell notes Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix organizers yesterday “announced a more streamlined transportation plan from the heart of the city to the Raceway at Belle Isle Park for the IZOD IndyCar Series weekend” on May 31-June 2. Ferries will “operate on half-hour intervals,” while about “100 luxury buses also are available to carry passengers all three days from designated spots on the Cobo Hall Roof and the Joe Louis Arena parking deck and from marina lots near Atwater and Orleans streets.” No public parking “is allowed on Belle Isle during race week.” The upgraded ferry service -- this year “it features two ferries instead of one like in 2012 -- will cost $10 round-trip for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.” Buses will charge “adults $10 for a round-trip ticket and $5 for children 12 and under” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/16). In Detroit, Tom Greenwood notes the “only way on and off Belle Isle for the running of the Grand Prix races will be by bus or ferry boat” (DETROIT NEWS, 5/16).
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