Speedway Grand Prix – worst attendances in a decade mars 2011 series
After all the hype and what feels like the relentless season long cheerleading opinion from the notionally ‘independent’ in the media, the 2011 Speedway Grand Prix series attendance figures throw into yet sharper relief the ongoing credibility crisis with paying customers that organisers BSI/IMG continue to fail to acknowledge, resolve or address. Instead they prefer to blunder and appear to believe their own press statements. Usually about the importance of and desire for global expansion or swallow with gusto their own corporate guff about allegedly the robust health of the SGP brand.
In pure on-the-day attendance terms, sadly, the metaphorical SGP dog continues to be bark free. Indeed, 2011 saw the worst average SGP attendance figures (15,261 per round) in a decade! All the pro-forma talk about the excitement of the racing, top-notch quality of the staging stadiums or the high calibre (primarily invitation only) competitors chosen by BSI continues to conspicuously fail to inspire more fans to part with their hard earned for the privilege of going through the turnstiles to watch said often humdrum ‘spectacle’.
Given historic questions continue to linger about their reporting accuracy and statement veracity, in the absence of confirmation from the BSI bunker – the recently released ‘unofficial’ attendance figures are the best snapshot we have of the situation. These still make sorry reading for genuine fans of world championship speedway everywhere.
If we assume these figures accurately reflect paying customer numbers, surprisingly we can actually find a few positives from the 2011 SGP series since the latest campaign saw Vojens attract 3000 more fans through the turnstiles, Prague 700 and Terenzano 200. The stadium at Torun came on stream and attracted 16,700. This in itself is something of a minor miracle since the SGP website lists the capacity of the Marian Rose Motoarena as only 15,500! Still organisers BSI have some previous in this regard after having accomplished this loaves and fishes type accounting wonder of exceeded stated stadium capacity in Poland at both Torun and Bydgoszcz (in 2010)! These kinds of ‘unusual’ but unique errors give continuing credence to scepticism about any rhetorical or arithmetical claims made by BSI.
The jewel in the SGP series crown – Cardiff – saw paying fan numbers shrink by 1,360 though, bizarrely, after tangential dark mutterings about the severity of the recession this performance was praised in the pages of trade press! Luckily for BSI, the Welsh Government remain big fans of the Cardiff SGP. So much so that they’re prepared to stump up an impressive £850,00 over 5 years –around £4 a fan – just for the privilege of staging the event within the principality. The Welsh Government clearly don’t do much due diligence otherwise they’d know that it’s not so long since the organisers specifically changed their own historic start time to encourage a ‘reverse tourism boom’ that they claimed was to enable more families to get away from Cardiff without the need to stay over! Even a cursory search of the pitiful number of (independent) national press clippings the publicity departments of Sky Sports and BSI collectively manage to generate between them would reveal the added bonus of BSI Managing Director Paul Bellamy slagging off the city for the allegedly usurious ‘expense’ of its hotels as well as the trials and tribulations prompted by limitations of public transport (train) provision in the Welsh capital city.
With total attendances for the SGP series falling by 9,220 fans (down 5.2%) from 177,100 to 167,876, you need to go back a decade to the dark days of 2001 to find average attendee numbers per event below the present execrable 15,261*.
With the SGP firework conspicuously failing to light yet again this year, there’s vague comfort for the BSI/IMG management team in the brute fact that Prague, Torun and Vojens all saw their 2011 numbers beat their historic average attendance figures. However, if BSI/IMG were actually accountable to shareholders (or speedway fans!), ongoing decline in this area alone would see the lame ducks from the executive team seek opportunities elsewhere.
Average Speedway Grand Prix Attendance Figures