Indy 500 could have over 300,0000 again in 2017

Doug Boles - poor fella has to work to sell out Indy these days. Before Tony George took his hammer to the sport it used to sellout within weeks following every race for the following year.
Doug Boles – poor fella has to work to sell out Indy these days. Before Tony George took his hammer to the sport it used to sellout for the following year within weeks after every race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles is more confident than ever. Outside of last year’s historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, May 28 will be the largest crowd Indianapolis Motor Speedway has seen in at least the past 20 years.

Does that including topping the estimated 300,000 that showed up in 2011 for the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500?

"With the exception of last year," Boles said, "this race will be bigger than (any race,) at least as far back as I can go."

Boles, who tries to call customers every night to invite them back for the 500, expressed similar optimism a little more than a month ago. But frankly, he said, ticket sales are looking better now than they did even then.

While he hesitates to make any comparisons to the 100th running, which brought in an estimated 350,000 fans, sales over the past 10 days are almost neck-and-neck with 2016.

Tony George would brag and say "I bring my hammer to work everyday"
Tony 'I am Indy' George would brag and say "I bring my hammer to work everyday." He certainly did a number on the sport with that hammer of his

"It’s a small sample size … but we’ve seen a significant uptick in that time," Boles said. "We’re not quite sure what the reason is for it. Some of it is probably (the excitement over Formula One star Fernando) Alonso (participating for the first time). Some of it’s probably people are seeing the signage going up or just that it’s May.

"Whatever it is, we’re very encouraged. We’re still not (at) 2016, but it’s better than where we were when we told you we were fired up a couple of weeks ago."

Does that mean there’s a chance the local television will be blackout will be lifted again? Probably not, Boles said. He won’t rule it out all together, but he also said the odds aren’t especially good.

Boles explained that last May the blackout was lifted for the first time in 50 years under a special set of circumstances.

"If you rewind to how (Hulman & Co. President and CEO) Mark (Miles) announced it, he said it was a gift to the city of Indianapolis for all of their support," Boles said. "He said that we would consider it again if we sold out our grandstand tickets and we would be in that position with (general admission tickets) where we were last year.

"I don’t think we’re going to get there, but if we got there, we’d obviously sit back down and figure out what to do. But at this point in time, I don’t see that happening." Jim Ayello/USA Today

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