Indy 500 sans fans as COVID wallop on in US



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Indy 500 August 2020 update Image: wheels.ca

For the first time in its history, the Indy 500 will be hosted behind closed doors this month as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in US backtracked on plans to admit fans, while Major League Baseball (MLB) has also postponed its inaugural ‘Field of Dreams’ event due to COVID-19 which has left the United States devastated.

This is the latest announcement to be made by the IMS. Last month, IMS officials stated that attendance for the 104th Indianapolis 500 on August 23 would be approximately 25 percent of capacity, and face coverings was a must for all attendees.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway 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.

Indy 500 is an annual automobile race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The event is traditionally held over Memorial Day weekend in late May.

IMS can accommodate around 350,000 fans in the grandstands, suites and infield, and officials in June said 50 percent capacity would be admitted for this year’s motorsport spectacle, which has been rescheduled from its usual May date.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest outdoor sporting venue and the original plan would have allowed for up to 175,000 fans. The revised plan halved this to around 87,500, but was still set to make the Indy 500 the biggest sporting event since the pandemic began.

However, IMS announced on Tuesday that the Indy 500 will take place without fans following “careful consideration and extensive consultation” with State and City leadership.

A statement read, “As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the City and State, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened.”

“Since our June 26 announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled. We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment,” the statement further read.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month launched a number of new features, including 5G connectivity and a huge new Pagoda Plaza Media Wall. Plans for the upgrades were first announced back in February, a month after Penske Corporation completed its acquisition of the IMS and the IndyCar series.

The statement added, “Penske Corporation made a long-term investment to be the steward of this legendary facility. While we were very excited to showcase the investments and enhancements we have made in the guest experience, we know we have reached the right decision. Our commitment to the Speedway is unwavering, and we will continue to invest in the Racing Capital of the World.”

“Our commitment to the Speedway is unwavering, and we will continue to invest in the Racing Capital of the World. We encourage everyone to watch this year’s race on NBC, and we look forward to welcoming our loyal fans back to ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ on May 30th of 2021,” the statement concluded.

Individuals who still have tickets to this year’s Indy 500 will be credited for the 2021 event and will retain their seniority and their seats originally assigned to them.

“What I hope people recognize is that we’ve done everything possible to be able to do it with fans,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles told mediapersons.

“This plan will go down as the model for how to do a mass gathering under these circumstances if it were possible. We’ve said all along that we had to hang in there and see if the public health situation would allow us to do it, and we’re at least as disappointed as all the fans that we can’t have them there this year,” Miles added.

Meanwhile, MLB has announced that its debut Field of Dreams event, which was set to see the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals face off at a temporary ballpark on August 13, has been put off due to coronavirus which is continuing with its onslaught.

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