|Will we see empty seats on Sunday?|
Ticket sales for this weekend's U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas have been affected by the return of Mexico on the F1 calendar, according to the circuit's top exec.
COTA President Jason Dial told SBD Global that the race in Mexico City, scheduled for Nov. 1, applied some "headwinds" for organizers in Austin, Texas. Despite the competition, Dial expects attendance numbers to be up slightly in comparison to last year. "Probably just single digits [in terms of percentage]," he said.
"There's hope for it to be in double digits, but it's probably just single digits. Given the proximity of Mexico City and it's the very next Sunday, our team has done a fantastic job."
Last year's U.S. Grand Prix, the third since the track's debut in '12, attracted 237,406 spectators over the course of the three-day weekend, according to COTA. A total of 107,778 attended the actual race on Sunday. This year's drop in Hispanic and Mexican fans will be compensated by continued growth in other demographics, Dial said.
"We continue to see growth nationally outside of the State of Texas," he said. “Major metros — California, Illinois, Florida and New York — continue to come as other races aren't coming to fruition in the U.S.
We are also seeing growth in international countries other than Mexico." Ticket prices for Sunday's race range from $99-$299. NBC Sports Network will show Friday's and Saturday's practice sessions including qualifying. Sunday's race will air on NBC starting at 2:30pm EDT. HJ Mai/Sportsbusinessdaily.com