ISC reducing seating capacity at tracks to increase demand

ISC reducing seating capacity at tracks to increase demand

Too many fans are waiting to buy tickets for NASCAR races, so International Speedway Corp. plans to continue its trend of decreasing seating capacity at its racetracks to create more demand.

The plan was announced by ISC officials Wednesday when discussing its recent financial results.

Attendance has been down at many ISC tracks, including Talladega. (Sporting News Photo)

“It’s the age-old supply-and-demand concept,” ISC President John Saunders said during a conference call with financial analysts. “It’s what we built this company on.

“We’ll be talking on future calls about some capacity reductions with the idea of bringing a tremendous amount of sense of urgency back into the ticket-selling model so if you do get a negative weather forecast or rain for that matter, you’ve really hedged the risk.”

At Talladega Superspeedway in May, the track’s ticket sales were down 23 percent entering the week of the race, Saunders said. With an unfavorable weather forecast, the track didn’t meet its ticket sales from a year ago.

Reducing seats is nothing new for ISC, a publicly traded company whose majority of stock is owned by the NASCAR-controlling France family.

ISC already has announced an overhaul of the grandstands at Daytona International Speedway. It will eliminate backstretch seating and increase the size of seats from 18 inches to 20-21 inches, which will decrease capacity from 147,000 to 101,000 (not including suites).

Only one other ISC track has more than 100,000 seats. Talladega, which has placed banners over thousands of seats, has a capacity of 108,000, not including suites.

Five years ago, Daytona had 168,000 seats and Talladega had 143,000.

Other ISC tracks also have decreased seating capacity by taking out sections and putting in larger seats.

ISC will target seating that doesn’t include sightlines to pit road and the opportunity for fans to take advantage of prerace events and track amenities.

“There is simply too many seats in inventory at several facilities in our portfolio,” Saunders said during the call to announce ISC’s second-quarter earnings.

“The seats that we have today don’t necessarily offer or project the best experience for our fans. … An engaged customer, one who understands the sport and has a good at-track experience is more likely to return.”

Saunders stressed that there will be a range of ticket prices, including tickets for the Daytona 500 that are under $100.

ISC has seen its ticket revenue for races from January-May drop from $69.87 million in 2012 to $66.515 million in 2013.