Swaths Of Empty Seats At Dover As Speedway Officials Target Younger Audience
Dover Int'l Speedway had "swaths of empty seats" for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, continuing the "trend of declining attendance at the Delaware race," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Longtime observers called the crowd the smallest in years, something Dover Motorsports President & CEO Dennis McGlynn "seemed to hint was coming in the pre-race driver meeting." McGlynn told the drivers that fans "simply can't afford to attend races at Dover, and warned 'you're going to see some holes in the grandstands.'" Fryer reported McGlynn and his staff are "targeting a younger audience, trying to build a new generation of race fans, and offered kids 14 and under a $10 ticket on Sunday." McGlynn also "urged drivers to take a moment and pose for selfies with the new fans." NASCAR "desperately wants to appeal to East Coast fans, but it's a bloated market." There are "too many entertainment options already, and NASCAR is cramming in four Sprint Cup races from April 26 through Aug. 3 in one region." Some will "argue attendance doesn't matter because the tracks don't need attendance revenue like they did years ago." All tracks "receive a cut" of NASCAR's television package, and the deal that begins next year is worth $8.2B, so there is "plenty of wealth to trickle down to every facility." McGlynn said, ''It's a media-based revenue now, that's a fact. But I'm not sure that's a desire for us. We still want those people in the grandstands.'' Fryer noted empty seats "are ugly." They "look bad for the race track, bad to the sponsors and are bad for the health of NASCAR, regardless of the TV deal." There is "only one answer: blowing up the schedule" (AP, 6/2).