INDIANAPOLIS — It might be hard to believe, but an Indianapolis 500 without fans may come with benefits for the event.
The race had already garnered a lot of attention this year with it being the first Indianapolis 500 with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway under new ownership in Roger Penske, who has made vast cosmetic improvements to the famous race track to better the fan experience.
With no fans this year, fans will have to wait until next year to take in all the new improvements. Nevertheless, Chris Gahl with Visit Indy, said Penske and the IMS leadership staff made the right call in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the long-term, to ensure the health of the event, taking a pause this year is something we support,” Gahl said to Inside Indiana Business. “We again commend the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in being thoughtful in this approach.”
Gahl is airing on the brighter side of things when it comes to the announcement. He believes a fanless Indianapolis 500 will lead to a huge local, national, and international TV and radio audience. Along with that, it will spark a bigger interest in next year’s race.
“That attention will lead to demand for attending next year,” he said. “This will be a hot ticket come 2021 because it will be off the heels of the COVID pause.”
Though the economic hit the city is taking now because of the lack of fans will hurt, Gahl feels the with the increased attention the race could get next year city could be in for a pretty big pay off in the long-run, should the pandemic subside by then.