Skipping the mathematically consistent step of going down to 12.5 percent capacity, the Indianapolis 500 has decided to race without fans in attendance.
Via Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that the Aug. 23 race would be held with no spectators because of concerns about COVID-19, after initially hoping for 50 percent capacity and then reducing it to 25 percent.
“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 said. “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.”
It will be the first time in the 109-year history of the race fans won’t be allowed in. More than 300,000 fans can fit there, so even reduced rates were going to mean a huge number of people congregating at a time when public health officials advise against doing so.
IMS noted in its press release that since the initial plan to race at half capacity, positive cases in Marion County have tripled, while positivity rates have doubled.
“We knew these numbers were where they were at the time, but the hope of the city and state and ours was that the measures that had just been put in place would reduce those trends, but no one could predict anything,” Miles said. “We hoped all this would get back to where things were in late-June, and that just hasn’t materialized. We’ve been very aware of the numbers, day by day, and wanted to give it as much time as possible to see if the metrics could be reversed and improved, but we’re out of time.”
While all sporting endeavors are trying to figure out ways to safely create revenue/allow fans, the reality of the disease is making that hard to justify in many places.