Wisconsin and Michigan State will play Saturday in the inaugural Big Ten championship football game, and ticket brokers said that demand for the game “is soft, with thousands of tickets available on the secondary market at well below face value,” according to Michael Pointer of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The Big Ten “put 2,000 tickets on sale Tuesday through Ticketmaster at prices of $80 to $175.” Wisconsin, while “expecting to sell its allotment of 15,000 seats eventually, had 2,000 remaining Tuesday.” Brokers said that part of the reason for the soft demand “is the nature of all college football conference championships, which generally don't sell well on the secondary market.” Milwaukee-based Ticket King partner Jim Boyce said that Wisconsin fans “haven't responded as strongly as he expected.” He “thinks that's due in part to the Badgers having clinched a berth in the game only a few days ago.” Boyce: "I don't care who you are, when you've got that little turnaround time, that's going to have a major effect.” A public sale of 20,000 tickets “sold out on July 30.” Michigan State has known it was going to play in the game “since Nov. 19 and school officials say its 15,000-ticket allotment has been sold.” StubHub Corporate Communications Manager Joellen Ferrer said that “more than 9,000 tickets were available on the site Tuesday afternoon.” The SEC title game in Atlanta on Saturday “has less than 5,000 listed.” Other than the SEC, league title games “have had mixed results in terms of demand.” Omaha-based Red Zone Tickets Owner Brett Franksmann said that conference title games “only sell well if it's a longtime rivalry ... or if it has national title-game implications” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 11/30).
SEAT FILLERS WANTED? In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted the Big Ten was “forced to send a Tweet out saying it is NOT paying fans to fill Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.” The conference tweeted, "Fans, please be aware, regarding the Big Ten Football Championship Game, the Big Ten is NOT paying fans to attend. #B1GFCG." Walked noted that StubHub had tickets listed “for as little as $9” (JSONLINE.com, 11/30). An ad posted on Craigslist read, "Saturday night event in downtown Indianapolis needs seat-fillers. Total number of seat-fillers needed will vary based on crowd. Must tolerate loud noise and crowds. Must have red or dark green casual clothing to wear.” The Big Ten said, “We are not involved in that. You’ll have to ask Craig’s List” (OUTKICKTHECOVERAGE.com, 11/30).
F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone “gave Circuit of the Americas officials another week to prove they have the financing in place for the F1 race scheduled for Nov. 18 of next year” in Austin, according to John Maher of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Previously, Ecclestone had said that the deadline was yesterday, and before that “he put the cut-off point at the end of last week.” Ecclestone's most recent deadline, however, “does not appear to be one that can be renegotiated.” It coincides “with a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in New Delhi on Dec. 7, when the 2012 race calendar will be officially ratified.” While F1 races “can be dropped after that date because of problems ranging from construction delays to civil unrest in the host country, races would not be added to the schedule” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 12/1).
WHAT EXECS ARE SAYING: The future of F1 racing was discussed at the Motorsports Marketing Forum in Las Vegas, and the situation in Austin was a main topic. JMI Founder Zak Brown said, “You have people involved that have not put on events. The numbers don’t add up.” He said that when one looks at the heavy infrastructure and start up costs around the event, the financials didn’t make sense. Brown: “You really only have one form of revenue and that is the gate. … The sponsorship and the numbers don’t add up.” Octagon Exec VP Mark Coughlin, on whether Austin can get the event back on track: “I think it’s a very tough situation for anyone to tie up that amount of money for a long period of time. … They are running out of time. It’s not happening in 2012, and they are pushing it now to 2013, and they have an awful lot of work to do” (THE DAILY).
Travis Pastrana sat for a featured one-on-one interview during day two of the Motorsports Marketing Forum in Las Vegas. Pastrana noted his recovery process from a broken ankle, which delayed his NASCAR career, saying, “I actually became a bigger fan and feel I learned a lot by watching on television.” Asked about the biggest adjustment to NASCAR, he said, “The biggest adjustment, to me, is that the rider and the driver is the biggest factor. In Rally, if you want to make up time, you can take chances to jump up further. In NASCAR, you really have to not only know what the car is doing, but how to relate that. I was like, ‘The car is really loose!’ And they would say, ‘How loose?’ And I was like, ‘Really loose! Fix it.’ So that is going to come with experience and time. I will have to learn how to adjust the car.” On partnering with sponsors: “I would love to keep the same sponsor all the way through. Let’s say to fans, ‘These are the products we believe in, and let’s get fans to understand what these products are about and why we believe in these products.” He thinks sponsorship consistency is key: “It’s best to really rally around that, rather than have a sponsor one week and another the week that you don’t know anything about.”
QUICK HITS * On the biggest cultural change in coming to NASCAR: “In NASCAR, if you wear a flat-brimmed hat, you get killed. They don’t like flat-brimmed hats in NASCAR!” * On his goals for next year: “I want to drive as many different cars, as much as I can. And hopefully I can learn how to adjust to the car so I can help the team, and explain to them about how I need to work in order for me to drive the car.”
Manufacturers believe that engaging Millennials is key to the future of motorsports and see bringing in small cars, like the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta, to NASCAR as critical to that. During the session, “Manufacturers’ Panel: Examining the New Car Culture and its Impact on the Sport,” Chevrolet VP/Performance Vehicles & Motorsports Jim Campbell said, “Millennials demand excitement. If it’s not exciting, they turn it off and walk away. That’s what we’ve got to work on. It’s everything from what we put on the race track to what the length of the race is, to can I follow online. There’s no one answer, but in the end, Millennials will be the buying power and force going forward.” Ford North America Motorsports Dir Jamie Allison encouraged NASCAR to incorporate Rally Cross into its race weekends to engage Millennials. Allison: “These are thrill seekers. For them, thrill happens with a jump, with a wreck, with a drift. We have to look at it. The question is: How big does it grow?” But not all of the panelists shared that opinion. Toyota Racing Development Senior VP David Wilson noted small cars "have been part of the heritage since we started selling cars in the U.S." Wilson: "We’re not fixated on the car per se. We’re fixated on the Toyota being able to compete against Dodge, Chevy, Ford.” The desire to attract and appeal to Millennials spans forms of motorsports and continents. Ferrari Dir of New Business Michele Pignatti Morano said, “Formula One has the same problem as NASCAR. There are other sports. We have to be more entertaining. All this new media and new devices are helping.”
QUICK HITS * Wilson said of the Toyota Camry serving as the pace car for the Daytona 500, the “The Great American Race”: “Five years ago, when we came into the sport, it would have been a much more polarizing issue. Today the fans won’t even recognize the irony in that statement." *SRT Brand Motorsports Dodge Dir of Marketing & Operations Beth Parretta said manufacturers spend so heavily on motorsports sponsorships because motorsports fans are influencers. Parretta: “They’re the ones their family and friends and co-workers look to when it comes to cars.” * Allison said of the one change he would make to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: "The cars have to look like the cars in the driveway. That’s coming.”