Imagine the Indianapolis 500 with an Orwellian feel to it. Or looking like a scene out of A Wrinkle in Time. Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star published an article about those possibilities last night. It is worth a read. Find it here: https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/motor/2020/06/08/what-attending-indy-500-like-fans/5320149002/
I understand the idea, and I don’t know how realistic some of these things are. Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, acknowledges that some of these ideas are far fetched. The concepts are about safe crowd movement during a pandemic, keeping groups as small as possible. It doesn’t address the part where people will be sitting close together to watch the race.
The main idea is an app that not only tells you which gate to enter, but also assigns a time to be at the gate; tells you when you may visit the concession stands or restrooms; and tells you when you may leave the stands after the race. I can buy small parts of this. On the back of each ticket, the Speedway has for years suggested that you enter the gate closest to your seat. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t necessarily go into the track at that particular gate. Where I park has more to do with where I enter than where my seat is.
Some fans like to get to the track as early as possible while some like to get there late in an attempt to avoid the crowds. I don’t think fans will like being forced to alter their habits.
As for concessions and restrooms, an app can’t regulate your needs in these areas. An app that knows where your seat is and allows you to find the least busy food stand or restroom nearest your seat makes more sense. I’m sure the newly renovated restrooms are really nice looking, but I’ll make an appointment when I want a tour. I’ll go when I need to.
When the race is over, people flock to the exits. many don’t stay for the winner’s lap in the pace car. I can’t imagine forcing to stay up to an hour waiting for permission to leave. By the end of the race some fans have been in their seats close to five hours.
I wonder if a black market will develop where fans sell or trade their time slots. I’m not sure how that could be done. A scenario- i need to go to the restroom but my time slot is 40 minutes away. My neighbor has just entered his/her bathroom time. can we trade?
We all want to attend sporting events and concerts again. Venues have to insure the safety of their customers and take every reasonable precaution. Some of these concepts go a little beyond reasonable in my opinion.I hope some middle ground can be worked out. Who even knows if or when the race will even run this year?
The article also mentions some great new technology from NTT Data. I like the idea of the temperature scanning device. That is definitely a more efficient process than a staff member with a hand held thermometer. An alarm that sounds when a gate has too many fans there is also a good idea.
I concede this year more strict crowd control is needed. I agree that movement should be limited. I also believe that most fans understand this and will do what they need to in order to attend our beloved 500. I am always fearful of once controls are in place they tend to stay in place and get more strict. Race Day has always been one of the days of the year where I feel the freest. I could survive a year of some limits.