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Indy 500 attendance target halved

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has revised attendance plans for the Indy 500 as it seeks to stage the largest sporting event since COVID-19 struck.

IMS officials have announced that attendance for the 104th Indianapolis 500 on August 23 will be approximately 25% of capacity, with face coverings mandatory for all attendees.

IMS can accommodate around 350,000 fans in the grandstands, suites and infield, and officials last month said 50% capacity would be admitted for this year’s motorsport showpiece, which has been rescheduled from its usual May date.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest outdoor sporting venue and the original plan would have allowed for up to 175,000 fans. The revised plan has halved this to around 87,500, but is still set to make the Indy 500 the biggest sporting event since the pandemic began.

IMS yesterday (Tuesday) said ticket sales will not be permitted after July 24, further limiting the number of people who will attend. “In June, we announced the race was on and that attendance would be limited to no more than 50% of capacity,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of IMS parent company Penske Entertainment.

“We also made clear we intended to do things differently this year. By offering credits to fans who had previously purchased tickets, encouraging those over 65 to stay at home, limiting attendance in the infield, reducing tickets in our suites and promising fans their decision to not attend would not impact their seniority or right to renew tickets for 2021, we now anticipate attendance at approximately 25% of capacity. We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”

IMS said this year’s race will include numerous safety precautions, including the reassignment of seats to provide for greater distancing; the issuance and required use of masks, distribution of hand sanitiser to all who enter; temperature checks in order to enter; and changes throughout the facility to minimise queues and gathering spots, including limiting options from concession stands to mostly pre-packaged foods.

Miles added: “Our outdoor facility is mammoth, and with attendance of about 25%, it will certainly look different this year. We want to demonstrate that even under current circumstances, people can gather with carefully planned procedures in place so we don’t have to go back to shutting down our country and our community.”

IMS said it will fulfil all ticket requests that have been received from existing customers, which will be distributed beginning the first week of August.

Image: IMS