By admin | January 18, 2010
By Richard Allen
Have you noticed that during this week’s Sprint Media tour some of NASCAR’s tracks have begun to announce they will be redoing their grandstands to offer wider seats and aisles as well as built in cup holders and other amenities?
Tracks such as the Talladega SuperSpeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway are saying that they are listening to their fans and trying to make their experience more enjoyable. Well, that may be. However, the thing those and other tracks have been listening to most is the silence of no telephones ringing with calls of customers wishing to buy tickets. NASCAR has heard that silence as well.
The average size of most Americans is heading in an unhealthy direction. However, there may well be another motive for this sudden concern for fan comfort.
While I’m sure every track on the NASCAR circuit does indeed want their fans to have an enjoyable experience, they have only now that they are not selling out every event decided to become ‘proactive’. That, of course, is the true definition of reactive.
Another noticeable benefit for the tracks and NASCAR will be that the wider seats will spread people out more and not make the grandstands look so empty in those overhead television shots. Do not think for a second that this is not one of the reasons for these changes.
Here in east Tennessee fans of the Volunteers are used to being crammed into small spaces. Neyland Stadium in Knoxville is said to seat just over 100,000. It is often joked that if 10,000 of those people were removed from the stadium it would not be noticeable to a television audience because the remaining people would then be able to spread out and cover any holes that might be created by the vacancies.
Unfortunately for NASCAR’s tracks, there have been so many vacancies in recent years that the empty spots are not easily covered. By widening the seats and aisles, the tracks have come up with an artificial way of hiding empty seats…I mean providing more creature comforts for the fans.
I have maintained that if NASCAR will actually listen to what many are trying to tell them before they lose their entire fan base, those fans who come out on the other side of this current debacle will be better off for having hung in there. Wider seats is just one more example of that. Now, all that is left is for NASCAR to take many more steps toward rectifying the problems they have created for themselves.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Hall of Fame. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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