Reduced traffic at NASCAR venues

JOE DUARTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

The economic downturn is taking its toll on NASCAR venues, with tracks seeing an overall decline of almost 15% during the first quarter of 2009.

International Speedway Corp. (ISC), which operates 13 of the tracks visited annually by NASCAR's various series, reported overall revenues of $166.1 million (all figures in US dollars) during the first quarter of 2009, a decline of 14.31% from the $193.9 million brought in over the same period in 2008. Over at Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), which hosts NASCAR's various series at nine tracks, the total take for the first three months of 2009 was $133.6 million (down 13.95% from 2008's $155.2 million). The combined decline represents a 14.15% decline in revenues between 2008 and 2009.

Most of the drop is merchandise sales, concession stands and broadcast revenue. ISC realized a drop of 14.13% ($19.5 million) from the same period in 2008, while SMI saw a decline of 9.1% ($9.5 million).

SMI admission revenues for 2009 were down 23.83% from the first three months of 2008, while those at ISC dropped 14.75%. Both companies are attempting to counteract drops in attendance by dropping ticket prices at events, in some cases by as much as 35%.

And although those numbers are staggering, it must be noted that the NASCAR racing season started on Feb. 7, 2009, (about one-third into the quarter), so there are bound to be rougher waters ahead.


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