As the economy slows, ticket sales to some high profile events are beginning to take a hit as well. From Broadway musicals to sporting events such as NASCAR and Major League Baseball, slumping ticket sales have promoters questioning whether or not fears of a recession are putting the kibosh on ticket buying.
NASCAR, used to seeing packed stands full of fans, has been left with some empty seats, even at the sports most popular races. Upcoming races at several tracks, including Darlington and Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway, a track known for selling out regularly, have unsold tickets. While the tracks remain optimistic that the remaining seats will be sold by race day, it does pose problems for tracks that are unable to sell out like they have in the past. In an interview with The Virginian-Pilot, Jeff Byrd, president of Bristol Motor Speedway, one of NASCAR’s highest selling racetracks, offered his take on the stagnant economy’s affect on the racing industry. “We need to do something to change the business model because we can’t change the economy by ourselves,” Byrd said, continuing on to say that raising ticket prices would not be the answer.
The popular racing league is not the only entertainment venue hit by the slumping economy. The San Francisco Giants are reporting slow ticket sale for the upcoming 2008 season. Last season saw the MLB franchise welcoming three million fans to AT&T Park, a number that they hope to achieve once again this season. But for a team that lost one of its biggest draws in the off-season when they refused the resign Barry Bonds, a slow economy is the last thing they need. According to figures offered by club Executive Vice President Larry Baer, single game ticket sales are down by an estimated 50,000 from this same time last year. The team has also made tickets available for purchase at Costco stores for the first time this season.
High profile Broadway shows have also been impacted by the slowing economy. In the past month, Mel Brooks’ popular musical Young Frankenstein did away with its $400 premium ticket prices. Even musical powerhouse Wicked is feeling the strain, with their Chicago production of the show offering discounted tickets for the first time in the show’s three year run at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. However, the real test for Broadway will be the upcoming summer months when the Great White Way usually sees their highest profits due to the tourist influx.
However, the sagging ticket sale trend could continue for some time, as a recently released report from The Conference Board Consumer Research Center indicated that consumer confidence in the economy has reached a 35 year low. As detailed within the report, according to the Center’s director Lynn Franco, “consumers’ outlook for business conditions, the job market and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon,”
(The image accompanying this story is from ABCNews.com)