The selection of the second class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was a monumental moment for the Hall of Fame. Because the five-person class wasn't what the public was expecting, the announcement triggered significant discussion.
However, according to the Charlotte Observer, attendance at the Hall of Fame is lagging behind expectations.
First-year attendance was estimated as high as 800,000, and the budget was based on an attendance of between 575,000 and 600,000.
So far, the hall has fallen short.
Attendance has been just under 57,000 for July and August, the first two months of the fiscal year, and the hall said unofficial numbers for September are a little more than 16,000. That suggests that in September the hall could have also run a deficit.
The hall's net deficit after July and August is $190,000.
Attendance spiked significantly from October 9th to October 18th, but that was because of the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Plus, the winter months typically stifle attendance numbers, so it's unlikely that the attendance from July and August will be matched in January and February, and it's possible that the fiscal year's operating deficit could be as high as $3.5 million. (The fiscal year started in July)
Everything's suffering in the economy, so it's not a terrible shock that the Hall of Fame is struggling. But while it's not alarming -- yet -- the Hall's lagging attendance numbers do have to be a cause for concern. And it's quite possible that a Hall of Fame with only five -- and soon to be 10 -- members may be a reason for the lack of attendance. But if attendance continues to fall as the number of Hall of Fame members increases, then it's time to sound the siren.
- NASCAR Hall of Fame
- the Charlotte Observer