SBD/July 28, 2014/Events and Attractions

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  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Continues Attendance Battle For NASCAR Brickyard 400

    Attendance may be lagging, but NASCAR drivers hold the race in high regard

    The crowd for Jeff Gordon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 win yesterday "appeared to be between 80,000 and 90,000, less than half the number who witnessed" Gordon's first win at the inaugural Indianapolis Motor Speedway in '94, according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES (7/28). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin writes attendance was "reasonably close" to 85,000, but he "wouldn't be surprised if the count came in at 75,000 or 90,000." Cavin notes one reporter "estimated 65,000, and I think that's probably a tad low." But the "reality is, it's impossible to know for sure," as IMS is a "large facility and people are spread out, some on the infield mounds, some walking around, some arriving late or leaving early." There are "suites, too." Cavin also "estimated 30,000" for Saturday's Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250. But a source said that an IMS official "told him 27,000" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/28). In Charlotte, Jim Utter wrote whether it is "300,000 fans who show up to watch ... or 100,000 or even less, it really doesn't detract from the race's meaning to drivers." IMS' "history and traditions remain in tact regardless of attendance or even if some seats are removed" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/27). 

    SIGN OF THE TIMES: In Indianapolis, Phil Richards wrote the Brickyard 400 in the '90s was NASCAR's "hottest ticket and biggest buzz." The stands were "full and the race rivaled" the Indianapolis 500. But it has been a "long, hard road for NASCAR." Of the 23 tracks on which its 36 points races are contested, 14 have "reduced permanent seating capacity in recent years, many significantly." But IMS "won't reduce seating significantly," as demand "is there for the Indy 500." IMS introduced a "range of activities this year, including concerts featuring seven country music attractions and improved fan access to drivers and the garage area." It also offered a "ticket package designed to make the race more affordable for families and to cultivate young fans." IMS President Doug Boles prior to this weekend's races said, "Where we feel we're making traction is with the casual NASCAR fan who's looking for more than just a race and that's one reason for the music this year" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/26). The L.A. TIMES' Peltz wrote many fans are "less enthralled with the Brickyard 400 these days, and that's a problem for NASCAR and the speedway." The first event in '94 was "so novel that more than 200,000" attended the event. But now the Brickyard 400 "draws half that many spectators." In a "nod to that drop, the speedway this year placed giant tarps over thousands of seats between Turns 1 and 2, and between Turns 3 and 4, rather than have television cameras showing swaths of empty grandstands" (L.A. TIMES, 7/27). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote, "I'm still bullish on the Brickyard, the MotoGP, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and, of course, the king of them all, the Indianapolis 500." But "let's be honest as we enter the third decade of the Brickyard here at IMS: The race is a snooze-fest. It's automotive Ambien. Has been for a long time." Fans are showing that "with their wallets." The event "ranks eighth in attendance among the circuit's 36 races," but as we "enter the 21st year of this event, it's obvious by the large swaths of empty seats that this race has lost a lot of its juice and novelty" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/27). 

    RETURN OF THE APRON: The INDIANAPOLIS STAR's Cavin notes Boles "confirmed weekend discussions with NASCAR officials and IndyCar participants about the return of the apron, which was removed following the crash-filled" '92 Indianapolis 500. Boles said that the "seven-figure expenditure was approved by the IMS board of directors last fall, but a final decision has not been made." The deliberation is "based on how the apron affects the Indianapolis 500." It was "removed to reduce the travel distance of a spinning car to the outside wall." But the invention and "installation of the energy-absorbing SAFER barrier, along with design changes to Indy cars, has made that less of a concern" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/28).

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  • Baseball HOF Induction Ceremony Draws Third-Largest Crowd In Event History

    With Glavine (l) and Maddux (r) among inductees, the crowd was Braves-heavy

    The '14 Baseball HOF Induction Ceremony yesterday drew an estimated crowd of 48,000 fans at the Clark Sports Center, marking the third-largest estimated crowd in the history of the event. The '07 ceremony drew an estimated 82,000 fans and the '99 ceremony crowd was estimated at 50,000 (Baseball HOF). In New York, Anne Delaney notes the crowd "likely was enhanced by the weather, which turned out to be favorable, despite forecasts calling for thunderstorms" (Utica OBSERVER-DISPATCH, 7/28). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes with most of the HOF class associated with the Braves, there was a "besotted crowd of tomahawk-chopping fans, many in blue and red jerseys and caps." Some spectators "sat beneath tents on a distant hill in an outpouring reminiscent of the estimated 75,000 who gathered" in '07 for the inductions of Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn. The weekend "was tonic for what ailed Cooperstown at last year's induction." The HOF had "lines snaking out its door; more than 6,700 people entered, the best single day of admissions since the Ripken-Gwynn induction seven years earlier" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/28). In Minneapolis, La Velle Neal III noted the '14 HOF class was "the highlight of a thrilling weekend" in Cooperstown. The crowd was "a loud and proud group" and the speeches "were excellent" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 7/27). In Toronto, Bob Elliott notes it "seemed like a day game at either Fulton County Stadium or Turner Field with many fans doing the Tomahawk Chop wearing" HOFers Tom Glavine's No. 47, Greg Maddux' No. 31 or Bobby Cox' No. 6 jersey. The Braves front office "chartered a 48-seat plane to fly from Atlanta to Albany, N.Y., for the event" (TORONTO SUN, 7/28). In N.Y., Bill Madden writes this HOF induction "delivered everything it promised" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/28). 

    SPEAK FROM THE HEART: In Chicago, David Haugh notes HOF inductee Frank Thomas spent 17 minutes "wowing everybody in a way South Siders will be talking about for years." Thomas' speech will "be what baseball people remember most" about the enshrinement ceremony. Thomas "left the most lasting impression speaking straight from the heart" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/28). Also in Chicago, Rick Morrissey notes the scope of Thomas' gratitude was "so wide that the huge crowd threatened to be swept away." It "wasn't just the names Thomas mentioned -- and he mentioned a lot -- it was the feeling with which he mentioned them" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/28). The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Paul Sullivan notes, "All in all, 138 people were mentioned." Thomas' speech "went over the prescribed time limit by several minutes, but no one seemed to care." He was "on a roll, and there was no stopping him" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/28). On Long Island, Anthony Rieber notes he "never mentioned 'steroids' or 'performance-enhancing drugs,' but Thomas' message was as powerful as one of his signature 400-foot-plus home runs" (NEWSDAY, 7/28). Meanwhile, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Sullivan notes inductee Joe Torre "forgot to mention late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner" in his speech. Torre said, "We had mutual respect, and I feel terrible. It was so obvious for me that I passed him. It's what it is, but they threw a party for me at MLB last night, and Hal (Steinbrenner) was there" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/28). In Dallas, Evan Grant notes Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel on Saturday was honored by the HOF with the Ford C. Frick Award for Excellence in Broadcasting (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/28).

    VOTER REGISTRATION CARD: NEWSDAY's Rieber noted the HOF on Saturday announced "changes to the oft-criticized voting process for induction into baseball's most exclusive club." Starting with the Class of '15, recently retired players on the ballot for the Baseball Writers Association of America "will be eligible only for 10 years instead of the current 15." In addition, writers who cast ballots "will be required to fill out a registration form and sign a code of conduct." For the first time, the "names of those who voted will be revealed by the Hall, but writers still will have the option of keeping their ballots secret." The "need for a code of conduct -- the details of which were not released -- was apparently spurred by the case" of Miami-based writer and radio host Dan Le Batard, who "allowed fans to cast his ballot for him last year." The 10-year rule for players "could have a profound effect on chances for forgiveness -- and an eventual spot in Cooperstown -- for those who are believed to have used performance-enhancing drugs" (NEWSDAY, 7/27). In Atlanta, Carroll Rogers noted HOF BOD Chair Jane Forbes Clark said that the change "had nothing to do with trying to rush through players under steroid suspicion" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/27).

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  • LPGA Officials Pleased With Inaugural Int'l Crown Despite U.S. Team's Early Exit

    While Sunday's crowds were smaller, officials were pleased overall

    The U.S. team's failure to qualify for yesterday's final round of the LPGA Int'l Crown "isn't going to cause an overhaul" of the tournament's format, according to Randell Mell of GOLFCHANNEL.com. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan "loves the drama the U.S. vs. Korea playoff created Saturday and can even see an upside to the Americans getting eliminated early in the inaugural event." Whan said, "I really don’t think that lessens the event. Quite frankly, I think it ratchets it up a notch." He added, "I have a hard time saying I’m going to critique the format so a country or two can find their way into Sunday. I think that’s what great events and tournaments are. ... If you’re going to make it to Sunday here, you’re going to have to make it through Saturday. I’ll take one of the greatest Saturdays in LPGA history, and we’ll build on that" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 7/27). In Baltimore, Don Markus notes LPGA and Caves Valley Golf Club officials were "in a pretty good mood after the conclusion of an event that was first conceptualized four years ago and came off with barely a hitch." While admitting that the U.S.’s absence yesterday "might have cut down some on the large crowds that lined the fairways and surrounded many of the greens the previous two days," LPGA officials "declined to announce attendance figures for the event" (Baltimore SUN, 7/28). GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Nichols wrote the Int'l Crown "was fantastic right up until the point when the U.S. got knocked out." That is "not opinion, it's a fact for all involved -- sponsors, fans, TV viewers" (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/26).

    FRUSTRATED WITH THE FORMAT: GOLFCHANNEL.com's Mell noted U.S. golfer Stacy Lewis was "frustrated that the Americans failed to advance to Sunday singles," and hopes that there "will be some tweaks in future stagings of the event." Lewis on Saturday said, "It's just crazy to think that we're two points out of the lead of this thing and we're not able to play tomorrow. So that's really what's the most disappointing part about the format. We just wish we had an opportunity tomorrow, because I think that we really could win tomorrow if we had an opportunity to play." She added that she "likes the overall concept" of the tournament. Lewis: "I thought that it was a great first year. ... It's an event that has a great opportunity to grow over the years, and I was just honored to be on team USA the first year and can't wait to play with these girls again" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 7/26).

    THE RIGHT KIND OF ATTENTION: In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote the Int'l Crown has "provided another great opportunity to put the Baltimore metropolitan area in a global spotlight, with near-perfect conditions at Caves Valley Golf Club and the kind of community and corporate support that should bring more major golf events to the region." It is "certainly a nice change of pace to put on this kind of show without having to pave over any light rail tracks or risk millions of dollars in scarce public funds." Judging by the crowds, the Int'l Crown "brought together golf fans from all eight of the countries represented." The tournament will next be played at Rich Harvest Farms in suburban Chicago in '16, but the "hope here is that it generates enough buzz to spark more interest from the LPGA and the PGA in the region's premier golf courses" (Baltimore SUN, 7/27). GOLFWEEK's Nichols noted Whan's goal from the start was "to create something different." From "captain-less teams to walk-up music on the first tee to a third-round cut, he wanted everything about this event to be unique and not a knock-off of something in the men’s game or a dusting off of a tournament that once was." This was to be "a celebration of the global nature of the women’s game, and a reason for fans and media to turn their attention toward the LPGA for something other than a major." To that end, the Int'l Crown "was wildly successful" (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/27).

    Print | Tags: Events and Attractions, LPGA
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