SBJ/May 21-27, 2012/Facilities

‘Aggressive’ Indy shows revenue strength

A combination of new assets and new sales packages has put Indianapolis Motor Speedway on track to deliver its strongest revenue in four years, according to speedway executives.

NTB’s sign at Turn 1 is among the new inventory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IMS PHOTO BY JIM HAINES
The speedway, which will host the Indianapolis 500 this weekend, already has exceeded its sponsorship sales total for 2011, and it’s only the second quarter. IMS senior executives estimate the track will finish the year with 5 to 10 percent more revenue than last year.

The sales success has been driven in large part by creating new inventory and restructuring sales offerings to include hospitality and other elements. For the first time, the Indy 500 will have retaining wall signage in turns 3 and 4, and signage on the back of its video board. It also will have signage in the grass inside Turn 1.

The inventory helped attract new sponsorship from Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, which will have signage in Turn 3. It also was able to up-sell NTB, a national car service and retail outlet that will have signage in the grass at Turn 1, and Shell, a longtime track sponsor that will have signage on the retaining wall in Turn 4 and on the back of the video board.

Packages that include the new signage and hospitality range in value from the high six to low seven figures.

In addition to Fuzzy’s, IMS signed new sponsorships with Continental Tire, Nissan, Visit Florida, First National Bank of Omaha, 5-Hour Energy, Farmers Insurance, Nationwide, Banana Boat and others.

IMS Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mike Redlick said the new deals were largely the result of more proactive sales efforts. He has added three new sales executives in the last year and a half and pushed the sales team to find new business and create new inventory to sell on the property.

“There’s been a change in philosophy here,” Redlick said. “While we’ve always been the premier venue for racing, we have started to look at things and ask how we can be aggressive and show partners how they can use us as a vehicle. In the past, we were very concerned about the event we put on for fans, but we have begun to make the event more friendly for our partners.”

Strong sponsorship sales around this year’s Brickyard 400, which will be held July 29, have contributed to IMS’s sales total. The speedway expanded the NASCAR event weekend to include a Nationwide Series race and Grand-Am Series race. It then branded the race weekend as “Super Weekend” and sold the presenting sponsorship to the entire weekend to existing partner Kroger. It also brought on Crown Royal as title partner of the Sprint Cup race, which was a position the racetrack hadn’t filled in past years.

In addition to increased sponsorship sales, IMS has seen strong demand for hospitality for this year’s Indy 500. It sold out of its hospitality for this weekend’s race, repeating the sales success it had a year ago for the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. It also sold out of its Pagoda Hospitality even after it added another floor to its sales inventory. (It sold the third, fourth and fifth floors in 2011. It repeated that this year and added the 10th floor.)

Redlick said the speedway’s sales team isn’t done with its sponsorship or hospitality sales. He would like to see the team sell additional grandstand signage before the Brickyard 400 and find naming-rights partners for some of the track’s landmarks.

“We’re only limited by our imagination,” Redlick said. “There’s plenty of inventory left to sell.”
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