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International Speedway Corp. reports attendance drop in second quarter

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 59th Annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola - Practice

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JUNE 29: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, signs autographs for fans during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 59th Annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on June 29, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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International Speedway Corp. reported Monday that Cup attendance was down an average of 6.5 percent for the six races it held in the second quarter.

Races during the second quarter, which ended May 31, were at Phoenix, Auto Club Speedway, Martinsville, Richmond, Talladega and Kansas.

During its investor analyst call, International Speedway Corp. reported that admission revenue at Talladega and Auto Club were “comparable” to 2016.

Admissions revenue for the second quarter was $28.7 million, which was down about $1.8 million compared to the same period from last year.

Motorsports revenue for the quarter was $122 million, which ISC stated was primarily due to TV broadcast rights.

ISC reported that it has had “mixed results” for its recent Cup weekends at Michigan and Daytona, which are in the third quarter. ISC reported increases in attendance and admissions revenue for Daytona but did not state how much of an increase.

ISC also stated that advance ticket sales for the August Cup weekend at Watkins Glen were “tracking in line” with 2016. Watkins Glen sold out its grandstands last year for a second consecutive year.

Advance sales for remaining ISC races in the third and fourth quarter are down approximately 5 percent, the company reported.

“We remain confident our consumer-focused marketing strategies are working to slow recent attendance revenue related trends,’’ said John Saunders, president of ISC. “Our initiatives will continue to target new and lapsed customers through all traditional media, social and digital channels. The objective here is to reignite and protect the base, grow casuals into avids and spark interest and demand with the next generation of fans.

“Our strategies are focused on value-added options that enhance the live motorsports experience for our fans, including exclusive VIP hospitality experiences with driver appearances and Q&A sessions. We’ve included ticket packages aimed at youth and younger demographics with kid pricing and family targeted promotions.’’

Asked about where the disconnect is in an improving economy, Saunders said:

“Since our last call, Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. has announced his retirement (from full Cup racing) at the end of the season. … When you look at Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and certainly Dale Jr., that’s having an impact.

“The good news is that we’re seeing these younger drivers, and they’re younger, 19-year-old kids coming along, and you’ve got Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. As the emotional connection is made with these drivers, I think we’re going to see a resurgence and with a younger demographic. There are some short-term things that are working, and there are some things that are going to take longer to resonate.’’

ISC also reported:

  • Its board recently approved a project to renovate the infield at Richmond International Raceway and “introduce innovative fan experiences.’’ Details were not disclosed.

  • It has one Cup entitlement sponsorship open in the fourth quarter, which is comparable to last year.

  • The average ticket price for Cup events during the second quarter was $71.96, which is comparable to last year.

  • Viewership of Cup Series has seen a growth in viewers age 18-34 in 13 of 16 races.

  • More than half of its revenue is secured through NASCAR’s 10-year broadcast agreement and multi-year partnership agreements.

For the full ISC report and statement, go here.

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