IMS further reduce fan presence for Indy 500



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Indy 500 July 2020 update Image: wheels.ca

Attendance for the 104th edition of the Indianapolis 500 on August 23 will be cut down to approximately 25 percent of capacity with masks made mandatory for all attendees. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway made this announcement recently.

The announcement was made based on policies and procedures put into effect by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is an automobile racing circuit located in Speedway, Indiana, in the United States. It is the home of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, and formerly the home of the United States Grand Prix.

The Indianapolis 500, also formally known as the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, or simply the Indy 500, is an annual automobile race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, United States, an enclave suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana. The event is traditionally held over Memorial Day weekend in late May.

The IMS can hold around 350,000 fans in the grandstands, suites and infield combined, and officials last month said 50 percent capacity would be admitted for this year’s motorsport showpiece, which has been rescheduled from its original May date.

IMS is the world’s largest outdoor sporting venue and the original plan would have allowed for up to 175,000 fans. The revised plan has halved this to around 87,500 but is still set to make the Indy 500 the sporting extraordinaire since the COVID-19 global outbreak.

IMS said that ticket sales will not be allowed after July 24, further cutting down on the number of people who will attend.

“In June, we announced the race was on and that attendance would be limited to no more than 50 percent of capacity,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of IMS parent company Penske Entertainment.

“We also made clear we intended to do things differently this year. By offering credits to fans who had previously purchased tickets, encouraging those over 65 to stay at home, limiting attendance in the infield, reducing tickets in our suites and promising fans their decision to not attend would not impact their seniority or right to renew tickets for 2021, we now anticipate attendance at approximately 25 percent of capacity. We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, State and local health experts,” Miles added.

IMS has rolled out several safety guidelines to be followed for this year’s motorsport spectacle, which includes the reassignment of seats to provide for greater distancing; the issuance and required use of masks, distribution of hand sanitizers to all who enter; temperature checks is must in order to get access; and changes throughout the facility to lessen queues and gathering spots, including limiting options from concession stands to mostly
pre-packaged foods.

Miles continued, “Our outdoor facility is mammoth, and with attendance of about 25 percent, it will certainly look different this year. We want to demonstrate that even under current circumstances, people can gather with carefully planned procedures in place so we don’t have to go back to shutting down our country and our community.”

The 88-page health plan was released on Wednesday. Miles said he believes it’s a responsible plan and can accommodate attendees due to the size of the facility.

“You know, we’ve always expressed it in ways like you can put the Rose Bowl and Churchill Downs and Yankee Stadium and Wimbledon and the Vatican City, all inside it. Another way to think about it is the Mall in Washington, D.C. It’s two times the size of the Washington Mall,” he pointed out.

IMS President Doug Boles asked supporters to be alert and practice social distancing including both at the ingress and exit points of the facility.

The Indy 500 will be one of the largest public gatherings since the pandemic began with thousands in attendance at a time when overall coronavirus cases is continuously rising in the United States.

Global Medical Response Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ed Racht has been working with IMS officials to develop the plan. He said he does not believe the race should be seen as a public health experiment.

“Experiment is not a word I would use. This is the application of some pretty strict criteria in a large population to minimize that transmission as we move forward across the board,” the medic maintained.

Race officials also informed that there won’t be a television broadcast blackout, and residents in the Indianapolis area will now be able to see the race live.

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