Chris, over at Formula Money has taken on a huge task of trying to actually put numbers to the very real and often wavering concept of Formula 1 race attendance and ticket prices. You can imagine trying to work with the circuits/promoters of each event and then trying to discern the actual attendance and realistic ticket prices. Once harvesting all that data, you would then have to parse it and compare it. Suffice it to say, he’s taken a big load on but I’m happy to share some of his work with you as it regards our own race here in the US.
“The United States GP at Austin has had a total race day attendance of 440,036 over the four years since it came onto the calendar, an average of 110,009 people per race. This is the second highest of any race after the British GP and edged out the traditionally popular events in Canada and Australia into 3rd and 4th place over the period. Since joining the calendar in 2012 we calculate that the race has generated ticket revenues of $137.7m, an average of $34.4m per race.”
Now technically if you consider the $25m per year sanctioning fee as an overwhelming chunk of that revenue from ticket sales, you’d start to see where running this track would be doable if you weren’t paying for the construction of the circuit and interest loads on construction loans and continued operating expenses. This is why track economics have to work at a circuit like COTA and you need it to be busy 364 days a year.
What the numbers also suggest is that America is, indeed, a very big market for F1 and even if the total number of F1 fans is lower than other nations, America’s sheer size overcomes that with near 320 million people. I wrote a piece on COTA several months ago defending its position as the only realistic FIA grade 1 track for F1 in America and how periodically the media seems to get bored and starts taking shots at Bobby Epstein or the circuit in general. I have no idea why this continues but regardless, it’s important for F1 fans in America that COTA is healthy.
The thing Austin has going for it is its temperate weather, so called, as the track can get more use during the year than if it were in North Dakota. I’m not privy to how many track days they are selling to motoring clubs and how many of the manufacturers are using their circuit for car development and performance driving programs but that should be a huge push for them if it isn’t already.
For F1, New research has revealed that total ticket revenue for Formula One races accelerated to $644.7m last year, an increase of more than 6% on 2014’s total of $606.4m. Chris’s report is a 100 page PDF that you can actually buy it here. Here are his thoughts on the results of his research:
“The data also shows the long-term resilience of F1 as its total ticket revenue increased 35% over the past decade from $478.1m in 2006, leading to total combined ticket revenues of
$6.2bn over the 10 year period. The figures are revealed in the Formulamoney Grand Prix Attendance Report , a first of its kind study which unveils the highest and lowest ticket prices and attendance data for every day of every F1 Grand Prix over the decade to 2015.
The British Grand Prix, which took place earlier this month at Silverstone, had the highest combined race-day attendance of any F1 event over the past decade. A total of 1.12m spectators passed through its gates during a period which saw British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button win four championships between them. This put the British race just ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, which experienced cumulative attendance of 1.06m and was the season-opener in all but two of the years.
Analysis of the highest and lowest ticket prices for every race from 2006 to 2015 shows that total receipts have risen by an average of 4.2% annually despite a growing number of competing leisure options and a dip in attendance due to the 2008 recession.
Cumulative attendance at F1 races hit a low of 2.7m in 2009 in the wake of the global economic downturn. It has been boosted since then by the addition of new races and growth in the existing ones.”
So in Chris’s words, we have a 35% increase and while many speak of waning TV viewers and troubles, the sport seems to still be healthy and moving int eh right direction even with Mercedes domination. That’s a good thing for F1 and teams and while some do not like the far-flung races around the world, it was that very move from F1 boss Ecclestone that kept things afloat even in 2009. He’s not as out of touch as some may suggest.
Hat Tip: Formulamoney