NASCAR has struggled in recent seasons to fill the seats and hold steady viewership numbers with their TV partners. Let’s exclude the falling TV numbers and the loss of popularity for a minute and focus only on the attendance and what that means for the sport.
Every sport is living less and less by the people who come through the turnstiles and attend an event, but it still matters. If anything, it matters for what the perception of the race or game is. If there are a ton of empty seats, that could turn someone away, because of the negative light it brings. Why is the attendance dropping?
The racing on the track has been the best it’s maybe ever been, and NASCAR seems to have found the right format and playoff system, but people still aren’t attending races like they once did. If we examine the cold hard facts, the Daytona 500 and the following race at Atlanta are the only races to announce a rise in ticket sales or revenue. The other four races have reportedly either been flat or down for 2017, by around 7%. These numbers were given by ISC, who own tracks like Martinsville, Kansas and Talladega.
This is not a state of the sport issue; it’s the prices and the amount of money it takes to go to an event. ISC also reported their average ticket price is up 6% over last season. That is the issue, if we can find a way to make the ticket, concession and hotel prices cheaper and possibly only make the highest ticket $100 for a regular event. Given big events like the Daytona 500 and Coke 600, we can’t do that for every race, but it should be looked at for regular events. For NASCAR to start selling out events on a regular basis again, they simply need to lower the prices.