Fans refuse to get raked over coals by NASCAR promoters

Refusing to get raked over the coals by outrageous ticket prices, race fans are still buying tickets to races, they’re just buying cheaper ones, according to track operator Speedway Motorsports Inc.

SMI’s ticket revenue declined from $139.1 million in 2010 to $130.2 million in 2011. About 78 percent of that decline came as a result of purchases of cheaper tickets rather than attendance, the company stated in its annual report filed this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In 2010, a decline of 14.7 percent in ticket revenue was attributed evenly to a decline in attendance and the sell of cheaper tickets.

“It’s not across the board reductions in (our ticket) price," said SMI chief financial officer Bill Brooks during a conference call with financial analysts. “Some people are making a decision to come to the race and elect to buy a less expensive seat. Many are taking advantage of promotions we have, which we hope to accelerate the pace at which people purchase tickets by buying season tickets, buying weekend packages."

SMI gets 83 percent of its revenue from NASCAR races—13 Sprint Cup weekends, including the Sprint All-Star Race, Bristol (seating capacity 158,000), Texas (137,000), Charlotte (134,000), Las Vegas (123,000), Kentucky (107,000), Atlanta (98,000), New Hampshire (96,000) and Infineon Raceway (47,000).

Corporations have been more active in purchasing tickets, Brooks said.

“We see continued interest in our various sponsors with particular advertising programs we can do with them and they will buy tickets from at us at a very reduced price and use in their promotions, which further promotes our event and saves us cost and gets more people to the event," Brooks said.

SMI officials said their year-end balance sheet exceeded expectations.

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