NASCAR and hosting tracks are dealing with the same issue every major sports entity is facing: dwindling attendance, rising costs, and competition for the consumer dollar. Phoenix International Raceway thinks it has the blueprint for success, but the plans are not sitting well with some long-time fans.
Julie Loney and her husband tell The Arizona Republic that their days of parking their RV in the unreserved section of the campground are coming to an end. PIR is going to all-reserved camping next year as part of a $178 million dollar renovation to, according to track officials, enhance the fan experience. What has cost the Loneys $75 for camping will now be between $175-$250.
"We all love NASCAR. But they have priced us out," Loney said. "Some of us take our kids and grandkids and have a fantastic race week. Now we'll have a fantastic time camping and watching the race on TV."
Scott Rovn, vice president for sales and communications at Phoenix tells The Arizona Republic that the fans are the ones who want the changes.
Rovn says high demand for reserved camping is what prompted the change. "Fans responded to the quality experience that comes with knowing that they have a spot, working with their friends, knowing who's going to go where and creating that whole experience. That's what our fans seem to want," he said.
In addition to the change in camping, Rovn says track improvements include new and upgraded grandstands, 65 new track-side camping spots, an infield where fans can get up close to the racers, their cars and teams, better seats and suites, redesigned entrances and new parking lots.
To give you an idea of what the average cost is to attend a NASCAR event at PIR, here's a breakdown, as provided by the Republic:
Two-day admission: $10-$130.
Premium parking: $60. Free parking is included with admission.
Pre-race pit pass: $60.
Camping in RV City: $175-250.
Still, that's a lot of money for a weekend away.