Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 May 30. The number allowed is still a work in progress. With the race still htree months away, time is on the speedway’s side. Positive rates and deaths from COVID-19 are declining in Indiana, and today the state opened vaccine eligibility to people aged 60-64.
The consensus from what i hacve heard is that 50% capacity will be the target. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which will take place mainly in Indianapolis, will allow 25% of capacity attendance. That number is a bit deceiving, since team members, game support personnel, and invited team guests- approximately 420 per game-count towards the 25%. I estimate that leaves room for about 1,700- 1,900 fans per session, depending on the venue.
If IMS follows this capacity pattern, there could be possibly 75,000 or a bit more watching the race in person. The question is who gets to go and who doesn’t? The 2020 race ran without fans, although plans were made to accommodate some spectators. The track ultimately decided to keep the stands closed. Last year, IMS gave fans a choice to keep their tickets or defer them to 2021. They could offer that option again.
My feeling is I missed one race, and I don’t want to miss two in a row. I’m sure many fans feel the same way. I don’t envy the speedway’s position. The question of how many and which fans to let in coukl be a public relations nightmare.I have a couple of suggestions. Of course IMS has not listened to me in the past. Maybe this time?
Survey fans and offer the deferral option again. This will give those fans who still don’t feel comfortable attending the option of waiting another year. The track will have an idea of how many want to attend.
Fans who have held reserved seats for several years should have priority.
Limit general admission and employ the eight foot circles as Iowa did at their races last summer. The circles worked well at Iowa, and the hill accommodated quite a few fans.
I trust Doug Boles and Roger Penske will come up with a fair plan. They have more latitude than they had last year, and pandemic restrictions will probably be a bit looser by May.