ISC set to cause IRL attendance to plummet

''We won't give the exact numbers, but we're down,'' new Chicagoland track president Craig Rust said Tuesday ahead of this weekend's NASCAR race. ''I do not believe we will sell out, but you can get surprised. The phones have been ringing this week, and we're going to keep pushing till the bitter end. We've seen late walk-ups at other tracks. It's a later-buying crowd. Fans are waiting longer to make their purchases, given the economy.''

The available tickets, which range from $195 to $260, are good for both of Chicagoland's racing weekends. Buyers not only receive tickets for the Nationwide race Friday and the Cup race Saturday, but the Track Pack also includes tickets to the NASCAR truck race on Aug. 28 and the IRL IndyCar race on Aug. 29.

Along with other tracks that sell only a bundled race ticket, Chicagoland will consider abandoning that approach for 2010, Rust said.

''We need to do everything we can to get back to a sellout in 2010,'' Rust said. ''The Track Pack provides a lot of value when you look at it. But that's something that needs to be looked at.''

International Speedway Corp. — which owns 13 major tracks around the nation, including Chicagoland, Daytona and Talladega — plans to look at a variety of ticket-pricing changes, ISC president John Saunders said during a second-quarter financial reporting session Tuesday, when ISC reported a $31.7 million second-quarter loss. ISC blamed the loss on the poor economy and its impact on advance-ticket sales at NASCAR events.

''I anticipate for the next year that at certain events we will unbundle ticket packages, as well as adjust prices in other sections of the facilities beyond just the entry-level tickets,'' Saunders said. ''This is a high priority of our management team, to optimize attendance and revenue generation in what we expect will continue to be a challenging economic environment.'' Chicago Sun Times

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