Supercross series enjoys small gains in attendance, ratings
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series managed to increase attendance and ratings this season despite losing five of its top riders to injuries for extended periods.
The season, which finished in Las Vegas over the weekend, was one of the best in the sport’s recent history. Total race attendance for all 17 events increased 3 percent from last year to 831,600. Pit attendance finished flat with last year at 266,000.
The series sold out two races in Anaheim and races in Atlanta and Las Vegas. It also increased attendance in San Diego, Houston and Arlington, Texas. Its biggest decrease in attendance was for its January race in Los Angeles, which dropped 13 percent to 35,741.
The sport’s lowest-attended event was an April 14 race in New Orleans that drew 33,392 spectators. Feld Entertainment, which runs the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series, plans to eliminate the New Orleans race in 2013 and replace it with an event in Minneapolis next April. Feld Motor Sports Chief Operating Officer Ken Hudgens said the sport used to sell out races in Minneapolis in the 1990s, and he’s optimistic the race next spring will attract a good crowd.
“We’re playing to a high percentage of capacity, so to grow the series we have to grow events that have room,” Hudgens said. “We’re hoping Minneapolis will be a hit.”
The series’ decision to renegotiate its broadcast rights agreement with Speed before the season and add three live broadcasts on the cable channel helped it increase its Nielsen rating on the channel by 3 percent, to a 0.3 rating, and average viewership by 13 percent, to 385,000 viewers. Its highest-rated event of the year was Feb. 25 in Atlanta, which drew 630,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed supercross race ever on Speed.
In sponsorships, Feld this year renewed deals with two of its biggest partners, Monster Energy and Toyota. It has 80 percent of its national sponsors committed to the sport through the next two seasons, and it is looking for sponsors in the telecommunications and insurance categories, Hudgens said.
One of Hudgens’ other offseason priorities is to meet with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority about getting some financial support for the annual supercross championship in Las Vegas. Feld is committed to hold the race at Sam Boyd Stadium through 2014, but Hudgens said it will consider taking the race elsewhere after that if the sport doesn’t receive some financial support to keep it in Las Vegas.