Additional causes for NASCAR’s ticket-selling difficulties
February 3, 2009
The Florida Times-Union today had a somewhat unfocused article on NASCAR’s travails to sell tickets. The article mentions some reasons why NASCAR would have a tougher time pushing tickets compared to other sports, but doesn’t mention a couple of practices that have probably hurt them of late.
One of them being the practice of making renewal of annual tickets to events like the Daytona 500 contigent upon buying tickets to the “undercard” races. Imagine having season tickets for the NFL regular season and then being told you need to buy tickets to exhibition games to be able to renew next year. Then next year you have to buy tickets to training camp (as well as exhibition games) to have the privlige of buying season tickets. I know of a couple of families that were long time fans of the Daytona 500 who finally got tired of not only paying higher prices for the 500 tickets, but having to buy tickets for more and more events. They decided to not renew and give up on the venture altogether. The strategy works in flush times, but in lean times the sport becomes dependant on more casual fans to replace the devoted fans that they drove off.
Another thing squeezing the fan that just wants to go the race on Sunday is tied to NASCAR’s attempts to grow the TV audience nationally. While once upon a time the 500 started at 1:00, the start time has drifted later to 3:30. A similar trend exists for most races on the schedule. This affects the significant amount of fans have to travel a moderate amount (say 1-3 hours) to get to the track. Instead of getting home from the race in the early evening, they don’t get home until late night. Fox Sports’ CEO understandably prefers the later starts, I would think some track owners aren’t as enthused.