Hall of Fame Attendance and Sponsorships Spur Cuts

In a tough economy cutting costs is always at the top of discussion, but how does the economy affect the motor sports market? Moreover, how do you avoid cutting costs to the point where people are not losing jobs? Unfortunately, the NASCAR Hall of Fame (HOF) is looking to cut between $2.5 million and $3 million annually in order to balance its budget. The reason for cutting costs is that attendance figures have not reached the level anticipated in Charlotte’s bid for the HOF. However, Tim Newman, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), stated in a recent NASCAR.com article that cutting costs at NASCAR’s HOF will not impact plans for any current or future exhibits nor the laying off of 27 ful-time employees. Nevertheless, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has witnessed a decline in the number of people visiting due to a poor and sluggish economy.
Subsequently, when trying to win the business of Hall of Fame participants, NASCAR finds itself competing with places like the Rock and Roll and the Country Music Hall of Fame, two other good attendance draws. Surprisingly, other sources reported that attendance at NASCAR was lower than expected during the summer months. The sluggish turnouts have resulted in a net loss of around $3 million for NASCAR. However, NASCAR is on par with anticipated attendance figures between 250,000 and 350,000 running close to Baseball’s Hall but just ahead of Pro Football’s Hall attendance according to this year’s projected forecast. Meanwhile, Country Music and Rock and Roll Hall’s first year’s attendance for both venues was estimated at around 800,000 respectively compared to the 800,000 respectively for the NASCAR Hall. In spite of a slow economy, NASCAR’s Hall of Fame was still the leader with around 300,000 as compared to baseball’s 280,000 and football’s 196,000. In retrospect, football’s highest attendance ever in the early 70′s was around 247,000. In conclusion, the NASCAR Hall is planning a new advertising campaign to help boost attendance.
It’s important to understand the dynamics of a sluggish economy whether it’s a lack of interest from tourists or the fact that people are just not flocking to the Hall of Fame on which millions were spent building. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that some individuals are able to visit the NASCAR Hall only by dipping into their discretionary income. Tim Newman suggested that there are several local promotions in the works; if successful, the local attendance could make budgets cuts less severe. AS

NASCAR’s Drop in Attendance and TV Viewership

NASCAR doesn’t seem like it would be a very popular sport to many people, but it is. The NFL and MLB have not been lacking in viewership and attendance but recently NASCAR has seen a drop in viewership and attendance. Why is this? What is the cause for people not wanting to see the second most popular sport in America? Is NASCAR really losing fans or are the fans just not caring as much?

I think NASCAR TV viewership has decreased for two main reasons. The first reason is due to the fact that more popular drivers are not racing as well as they did in the past. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, and Jeff Gordon are some of the drivers I grew up watching and who always seemed to win. Although these drivers are still winning, they are not exactly at the top of the list as they were in the past. Drivers such as Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick are beginning to climb the ladder. This change has actually caused me to stop watching the races. The second reason, which I believe is the more important, is due to the economy. The economy is down, people are losing jobs, people are trying to find jobs, and no one wants to spend a lot of money. One would think people would sit down and watch TV since they are not working, but it seems like they are doing the opposite. Even though people may not have a heavy budget, they seem to spend time doing things they didn’t have the time to do when they were working. Instead of watching TV, like a NASCAR race, people are out cleaning up the yard or straightening out the garage. They still may be huge fans, but the significance of watching the race has been overturned by something of greater importance. BW

Is the thrill of NASCAR gone?

After attending my first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, I made an observation about the empty seats at the track. Other sports organizations such as NFL and MLB have been seeing an increase in viewership and attendance. So, why is there a decline in attendance at the race tracks and viewership on TV? I speculate that the recent economical crisis has had a significant impact. In this financial environment, people have been lucky to keep their roof over their heads since money is tight. One thing is for certain: it becomes clear that what one wants and what one can do financially may not be the same. I also speculate that the interest of NASCAR is declining due to the lack of rivalries among the NASCAR drivers and the lack of rear car bumping leading to spinouts and accidents, which really draws attention and gets the adrenaline flowing. How many times this season have you notice feuding among drivers? I’m pretty sure you can count them on one hand.

Another thing that is rarely seen in recent competition is the bickering among drivers and the pushing and shoving while on the track. Maybe having good sportsmanship or not wanting to cause conflict has taken all the action away. Another speculation of why the interest of NASCAR has declined is the fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the “Race for the Chase Sprint Cup Series” for the last four consecutive years. The fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the Chase have some wondering if the Chase is rigged, if he has an advantage over everyone else, or if he’s just that good. People are tired of the same old same old results occurring; they want change, but not too much change. Finally, the alternative ways of tuning into NASCAR is another speculation as to why popularity is declining. NASCAR no longer has to be watched on TV; it can be watched online through computers or other electronic devices, listened to on the satellite radio, recorded on DVR or TIVO, or watched by catching the recap of ESPN Sport Center when it airs. It can be speculated that all of these factors are impacting the declining interest of NASCAR. So, what can be done to get the adrenaline running again in NASCAR? CB

Is the thrill of NASCAR gone?

After attending my first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, I made an observation about the empty seats at the track. Other sports organizations such as NFL and MLB have been seeing an increase in viewership and attendance. So, why is there a decline in attendance at the race tracks and viewership on TV? I speculate that the recent economical crisis has had a significant impact. In this financial environment, people have been lucky to keep their roof over their heads since money is tight. One thing is for certain: it becomes clear that what one wants and what one can do financially may not be the same. I also speculate that the interest of NASCAR is declining due to the lack of rivalries among the NASCAR drivers and the lack of rear car bumping leading to spinouts and accidents, which really draws attention and gets the adrenaline flowing. How many times this season have you notice feuding among drivers? I’m pretty sure you can count them on one hand.

Another thing that is rarely seen in recent competition is the bickering among drivers and the pushing and shoving while on the track. Maybe having good sportsmanship or not wanting to cause conflict has taken all the action away. Another speculation of why the interest of NASCAR has declined is the fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the “Race for the Chase Sprint Cup Series” for the last four consecutive years. The fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the Chase have some wondering if the Chase is rigged, if he has an advantage over everyone else, or if he’s just that good. People are tired of the same old same old results occurring; they want change, but not too much change. Finally, the alternative ways of tuning into NASCAR is another speculation as to why popularity is declining. NASCAR no longer has to be watched on TV; it can be watched online through computers or other electronic devices, listened to on the satellite radio, recorded on DVR or TIVO, or watched by catching the recap of ESPN SportsCenter when it airs. It can be speculated that all of these factors are impacting the declining interest of NASCAR. So, what can be done to get the adrenaline running again in NASCAR? CB

BARGAINING POWER OF NASCAR ON THE WANE?

Considering declining TV ratings and attendance at most all of the tracks, both of these issues have significant impacts to the business aspect of NASCAR. One impact is that the teams may lose sponsorship value and another is the ability for NASCAR to be able to negotiate better rights deals in the future. The ratings for Sprint Cup races are down 10% and viewership overall is down 8%, which is estimated to be a loss of 500,000 people per race.

Track attendance dropped 10-15 percent last year, which has resulted in a revenue loss of 17.2 percent at ISC tracks alone. Scenedaily.com stated “Consider this: International Speedway Corp., which plays host to 19 of the 36 Cup points races, took in $195.5 million from ticket sales last year. It took in $192.1 million from NASCAR television rights – revenue for which it doesn’t need any advertising or marketing campaigns.” Nevertheless, sponsors don’t like to see empty seats, because in their perception, they may believe that the interest in the sport of NASCAR is vanishing. HB

CHANGES FOR THE 2011 NASCAR AND F1 SCHEDULES–The Impact?

On August 18 Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, announced the 2011 Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Series schedules. Among the most notable changes are the addition, or “realignment” as Mr. France calls it, of two race events. The first change will be seen at Kansas Speedway on June 5, which will be the second Sprint Cup race of the year at Kansas Speedway. And the other “realignment” of the 2011 schedule will be a new Sprint Cup date at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. This is the first time since 2001 that NASCAR has added a new track to the schedule, those being Chicagoland and the previously mentioned Kansas Speedway.

Under these changes NASCAR seems to want to open its doors to new venues, being the bluegrass state, but also it seems that they are making sure they can fill the seats of these venues. Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway are both 1½ mile tracks, but both have less seating capacity than Richmond International Raceway (RIR), a ¾ mile track. RIR seats roughly 112,000, while Kansas Speedway can fit just over 82,000 and Kentucky Speedway can only seat 66,000. My belief is that NASCAR and the track owners, International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., respectively, want to be sure they can retain the value of their ticket prices.

In other motor sports news the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and Formula One World Championship (F1) have announced the plans to open an FIA sanctioned event in Austin, Texas. The track is scheduled to open for the 2012 season and will be the first time in over five years that F1 will have an event in the United States. The Austin F1 Circuit will be 3.39 miles in length, feature 20 turns, elevation changes of over 130 feet and top speeds reaching 200 mph in a “proper” F1 car. Renowned F1 circuit architect Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Bahrain International Circuit and Yas Marina Circuit, which start and end the F1 season respectively, has designed the track. Included in the final design is seating for 100,000 plus fans, and considering it will be five years since the last F1 race was on United States soil I can only imagine that ever seat will be occupied for the entire race weekend. According to the F1 Times, the circuit and its organizers, Full Throttle Productions, are hoping to make $300 million dollars annually for Elroy, Texas and Austin.

The questions I pose to readers are:

How will the “realignment” of the 2011 NASCAR season schedule affect viewership and attendance numbers?

Will the addition of an FIA sanctioned event in the United States affect the 2012 NASCAR season?

JA

Should NASCAR Change the “Chase”?

Many NASCAR fans are unhappy with the current format of the Chase for a variety of reasons. Some say it favors one driver in particular, Jimmie Johnson, while others argue that there needs to be a road course included in the Chase. Regardless of the reasoning, it is clear that there is a large percentage of NASCAR fans who are disgruntled by the way NASCAR crowns its champion, and it is becoming apparent in both the television ratings and race attendance.

It can’t hurt for NASCAR to listen to the outcries of its core fans. There are a number of remedies suggested to curb the angst fans feel toward the Chase, such as adding more drivers, diversifying the final ten races to include a road course, or changing the points system. Since the inception of the current Chase format in 2005, both television ratings and race attendance have plummeted. One has to ask, “Can NASCAR afford not to listen to its fans for much longer?”

And that’s the view from here.

LC

NASCAR’s B2B Model

With attendance numbers steadily declining at the tracks, are corporate sponsors becoming more concerned with where their investment dollars are going or is there more than what we see at the track? This is a question that top-level executives of companies such as Sprint, Aflac, UPS, Best Western, DuPont, and other major corporate sponsors continue to reassess. Over the years NASCAR has become an intriguing place to invest for major corporations not only because of fan loyalty but also because of the potential profitable relationships that can be developed via NASCAR’s B2B Model.

NASCAR’s B2B Council sets up events quarterly where official sponsors can get together and come up with ways to make their partnerships profitable. This forum for B2B partnerships makes NASCAR even more attractive for investment and keeps its sponsors happy with the valuable relationships they’re able to develop. A recent example of NASCAR’s B2B model is “NASCAR’s Fuel for Business Driving Business Award” winner Aflac. Aflac used NASCAR’s B2B event to establish profitable partnerships with companies who can use their services, such as Office Depot, Ford, and Cintas.

As attendance continues to decline, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR is able to continue to provide new avenues of value for its sponsors.

And that’s the view from here.

DO

NASCAR and Its Declining Attendance

For those of us who are and have been dedicated NASCAR fans for years (or even decades) the question we sometimes ask is: Why is attendance declining in NASCAR? I have been wondering the same and and as a result of my curiosity I searched for possible reasons as to why attendance continues to decline in NASCAR.

According to an article on Forbes.com, a few reasons are: high price of gas cutting back travel, cost of hotel rooms and food, bored by lack of drama, and ticket prices at the track. Joe Baumann of Erie, PA “thought that races with boxier and safer cars were not as exciting as they used to be.” In response, NASCAR is looking to make improvements to regain interest from those fans who lost interest in the sport.

The Washington Post stated that NASCAR Chief Executive Brian France is looking for ways to make NASCAR’s car more “racey after NASCAR mandated a single body shape for all of its cars in 2007.” In addition, France recently decided on making the races start earlier and on at a more consistent start time.

NASCAR is aware of the declining attendance and is working on making changes to address the issue. We will not find out whether these changes will be successful until racing starts next year. However, for those who have decided to attend fewer races or not to attend any races at all, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons as to why each person has made that decision. On the other hand, for those of us who remain NASCAR fans, we can only hope that these changes will bring about a positive effect for the future and for the betterment of the sport.

And that’s the view from here.

LK

WHY HAS TV VIEWERSHIP DECLINED LATELY?

NASCAR is one of the most famous sports besides the NFL that people like to watch on television whenever they have spare time. Surprisingly, the number of people who watch car racing on television has decreased in the past few years. If the viewership keeps decreasing, car racing may soon cease to be one of the most popular sports.

We are said to be the generation of technology. Younger people can watch sports on their Mac book or little net book while they do other things such as write an essay, play games, or search the web at the same time. There are also too many unnecessary commercials during the race telecast, and this advertising could make some viewers lose interest and change to another channel very quickly. Sometimes the quality of the racing on television is not exciting enough to keep the fans tuned in.

Overall, most people just want to save money since the economy is currently in a slow state; and attending an actual NASCAR race could cost at least $45. If the cost of the tickets is too high, it will be hard for the fans to go to the race track. However, what is the point of wasting time to watch a race on television if you could go to the actual race? Unless ticket costs become more affordable, fans won’t show up for the races and may be turned off to watching on television.

And that’s the view from here.

PL