Richmond Int'l Raceway Looks To End Non-Sellout Streak For NASCAR Weekends
Richmond Int'l Raceway’s two annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends illustrate the track’s "challenges in attracting visitors in recent years,” according to Randy Hallman of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. The track “had a streak of 33 straight sold-out races.” But the streak ended in September ’08 with the race “postponed a day as a tropical storm passed.” RIR since then has had “10 consecutive non-sellouts.” With demand for tickets “down and fans asking for a little more comfort, track officials decided to widen the grandstand seats, reducing capacity to 94,063 by 2011.” Still, seats “go unsold.” NASCAR’s crowd estimates “dipped as low as 88,000 last year, down more than 21 percent from the peak.” There were “thousands of empty seats" for last Saturday's Toyota Owners 400, "but there was no official attendance estimate.” RIR President Dennis Bickmeier said that the track is “working hard to fill up spaces again.” He said of ticket sales, “Our job right now is to sort through the data. We want to see how we did right here in our backyard, how we did in D.C. and Northern Virginia, how we did in Hampton Roads, how we did outside Virginia.” Bickmeier said the racing community now is “unified to move the sport ahead.” A Shamin Hotels spokesperson said the company’s 26 hotels in the region “performed well” around the race. But the spokesperson “did not disclose an occupancy percentage” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/3).