Speedway Grand Prix series average attendances: fall continues in 2012 & 2013
Latest figures reveal that the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series average attendances continued to fall in 2012 and 2013, despite the ‘blip’ poor results of 2011. Worse still, SGP series continues to decline in popularity at most series event venues and overall. This isn’t really a great surprise – since 2002 the trend remains one of continuous decline through the turnstiles. Even the oft-heralded (in press releases, by boosters in the trade press or on their own website) panacea of new stadia locations (or the arrival of so-called big name sponsors like Monster Energy) rarely excites the paying public beyond the hoopla of the initial event. Worse still, though ongoing enthusiasm for adding deluxe soulless new stadia to the event roster helps the BSI Speedway management team profit maximise via the contract values charged to new SGP hosts, it fails to excite the paying public or protect the long term viability (or reputation) the Speedway Grand Series.
Organisers BSI Speedway slash IMG continue to choose not to publish official attendance figures for SGP series events but, even if they did, it’s sensible to continue to maintain a healthy degree of scepticism about such numbers in the light of previous methodological and probabilistic concerns. Past wrinkles include attendances exceeding published stadium capacity; the ongoing joy of spookily rounded numbers as well as a lack of clarity as to whether attendance figures released conflate gratis & paying attendees.
Despite the best efforts to keep SGP series attendance information secret, elusive or unofficial, these are the best publicly available attendance statistics* for 2012 and 2013.
Even allowing for tighter purse strings across a mostly recessionary Europe, these figures remain far from robust. Average SGP attendances in 2012 and 2013 were lower than 2011. If we choose to set scepticism aside and clutch at straws (indeed, I think, we must if we believe in the long term health and viability of any speedway World Championship competition!), the SGP organisers BSI Speedway could possibly point to the silver linings of record crowds at the Mariana Rose Motorarena Torun in 2013 (2,500 fans more than the official capacity of 15,500 listed on the BSI Speedway website!) and Vojens (2012). BSI Speedway could also take pride in attendances at the Friends Arena in Stockholm (2013). That said, Cardiff in 2012 was the third worst ever attendance at the Millennium Stadium (and also performed below lifetime average in both 2012 & 2013). Copenhagen (Parken Stadium) fell in 2013 and also performed below average, while Terenzano (2013) lost a third of its already pitifully meagre crowd.
More encouragingly (perhaps), after a disastrous 2012, overall attendances in Poland – ostensibly the most buoyant speedway obsessed market in the world – picked up again in 2013. Sadly, we don’t have official figures for the attendance for the 2013 SGP events held in Leszno, Daugavpils or for Western Springs Stadium in Auckland. Though, perhaps, this isn’t such a worry given the inaugural New Zealand SGP in Auckland was, apparently, so popular in 2012 that the official attendance exceeded (by 1,000) the official stadium capacity published on the SGP website!
Hopefully, though many issues continue to remain unresolved, the real boost of exciting new British World Champion Tai Woffinden will see the SGP attendance reach new highs at Cardiff and consistently improve elsewhere throughout 2014.
* Thanks to diligent research by speedway fan Brian Collins (HT Charles McKay) supplemented from comments by Speedway Grand Prix evangelist Philip Rising
For 2014 Speedway Grand Prix attendance figures go here
Sadly the New Zealand attendance figures turn out to be inaccurate and should be 15,000 (2012) & 8,000 (2013). The revised attendance spreadsheet is below: