An article recently made
its way around the internet written by a reporter that frequents the
IRL paddock and who normally covers all the IRL events. This
same reporter also has his hand in the IRL till, working as a race
spotter for certain teams on occasion. Once or twice per year he
shows up at a CART race and this year it was Cleveland.
Before the weekend
activities had begun, said reporter had already counted all the
grandstand seats and was disputing the number of seats listed in the
event guide (50,000). In the article
he wrote, he claimed to have counted 21,480 seats (plus suites) and
we have every reason to believe them since we verified the numbers.
There's no question he
had discovered a major error in the event guide. It was also evident
by his actions, that this IRL friendly reporter, sometimes IRL team
employee, was on a mission to discredit CART's attendance numbers at
Cleveland even before the weekend got started. Why else would
he show up early and run out to count grandstand seats?
The IRL friendly
reporter found that the event guide had two errors in it, and he was
absolutely correct. In one location it listed 50,000 seats and
in another it stated 100,000 seats were handled by construction
crews. In fact, there were only 25,000 grandstand and suite
seats and construction crews had to assemble, and then disassemble,
for a total of 50,000 (2 x 25,000 = 50,000). In other words,
the event guide had mistakenly double counted the number of seats.
Knowing that the actual
seats were something over 20,000, the reporter, having done what he
thought was all the necessary research, prepared the article in
question as soon as he heard the announced attendance of 51,317.
This was his chance to discredit CART and help out the race series
he strongly supports, one that has struggled with weak attendance
since its creation in 1996. In fact, numerous IRL races have
been cancelled over the years because of poor attendance.
In the article he writes
- CART vice president of communications Adam Saal supported the
figure of 35,000 as the attendance for Saturday's qualifying as
stated by organizers. Pressed on the issue, he said, "I'll get back
to you. We'll talk after the race." Afterward we contacted
Adam Saal and he told us he got busy after the race and when he went
back to find him, he had already left. Therefore, Saal never
had a chance to go over the attendance figures in detail with him.
If he had, he would have understood how the promoter, IMG, came up
with the announced attendance of 51,000.
We contacted CART for an
actual breakdown of the attendance numbers and this is what we were
told, roughly rounded:
25,000 grandstand seats (also includes suite, hospitality and VIP
16,000 General Admission tickets and passes
7,000 Hospitality VIP 3,000 Credentialed personnel 51,000 Total
This is total attendance, paid, comp, passes or otherwise. In
addition to traditional cash sales, it includes hospitality passes,
sponsor fulfillment passes, CART, Toyota Atlantic, Barber Dodge and
SCCA credential personnel, IMG employees and guests, promotional
tickets (media partners like WKNR, etc.) and sponsor promotions
(Shell as a general example).
The announcement put out
by IMG after the race did not state 'paid' attendance, just
'attendance'. Hence the 51,000 number holds up. Was it
misleading? Do most readers think attendance announcements are
paid attendance? Perhaps, but as far as we know, attendance
figures always include all the people on the grounds, paid or
So there you have it -
the real attendance numbers
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