News: Indy honchos upbeat despite slow ticket sales

Published in the July 3 2010 issue of The Edmonton Sun. News

Indy honchos upbeat despite slow ticket sales

Single-day tickets for this year’s Honda Edmonton Indy are right on track, officials say.

But the event that has lost $9.2 million over the previous two summers could be headed for the red again and taxpayers will be on the hook for the third straight year.

“To date our single-day ticket sales are consistent with past day sales,” said Northlands spokesman Brian Leadbetter.

However, three-day package sales are down by 20% compared to last year at the same time, with many race fans choosing not to renew their packages.

One reason for this, Leadbetter says, is diehard fans chose to spend their money out east watching the 2010 Montreal Canadian Grand Prix in June.

Leadbetter also said advertising for the race started later this year than in 2009, a factor affecting sales.

Despite this, Indy officials aren’t worried about the 2010 attendance numbers.

“Edmonton is generally a last-minute ticket sales area, so we don’t have any concerns right now,” Leadbetter said.

“We’re quite optimistic that ticket sales will pick up over the next four weeks.”

Coun. Kim Krushell is also unconcerned, saying that suites and corporate sales play a far bigger role in the Indy’s success.

“Where we saw a drop (in past years) wasn’t in single-day or multiple tickets, it’s in … corporate sponsorship of suites,” Krushell said. “Those dollars are significant.”

And that — community and business interest — Leadbetter says, is something this year’s event has seen an increase in.

Three-day packages for the race range from $135 up to $240 while single-day tickets range from $35 to $65.

This is the final race in the city’s current three-year contract to host the event.

The race lost $5.3 million in its first year in 2008 and $3.9 million in 2009.

Government officials have predicted this year’s race will still lose money, but the losses won’t be as high thanks to Honda’s sponsorship.

Krushell says there are currently three to four private providers interested in taking over the Indy to keep it in the city.

“I just don’t feel it’s necessary for the city to back the event, so if one of the other providers is interested then I would be in support of going in that direction,” she said.

A ramped-up advertising campaign for the Indy is expected in the coming weeks.

The Honda Indy Edmonton runs July 23-25.

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