Sign in / Join

Grandstand seating

The problem of building a facility like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which sits idle for all but 2 weeks of the year, has always intrigued me. With a capacity of 250,000, Indy is the world's largest sports stadium. But would it be rebuilt on the same scale today if owner Tony George had to start from scratch? This article suggests that the answer is no.

The article states that the cost of building Indy today would approach $700m. The average ticket at Indianapolis goes for $100. While that's not exactly peanuts, it's also a small fraction of the racetrack's fixed cost per seat ($2800). Given what people are paying for 60 minutes of NFL football in nearby Detroit, one wonders if Mr. George's recipe for the future involves less congestion around Memorial Day, and a ticket that's much harder to come by.

The irony here is that both idle capacity and managed scarcity are required to make the sporting show first, a mass spectacle, and second, a money-spinner. Of course, the late and great Sherwin Rosen had that figured out long ago.