While MLB has done their best to price out the most loyal fans, the NFL is mired in a lockout and the NBA is headed in the same direction, there is one sport that understands it needs to cater to the fans – NASCAR.
As many of you know, I lost my mom this past February. Losing her and struggling through Mother’s Day made it that much more important to me that I did something special for my dad on Father’s Day. While I was not really sure what to do, I figured something would hit me.
Before looking at a calendar, I purchased tickets for the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway for my brother and I and then realized that the race was on Father’s Day. As I was beating myself up trying to think of the perfect Father’s Day gift, my dad revealed to me that in the past couple years he had started watching NASCAR and had gone to a couple of races so I called Michigan International Speedway and purchased a third ticket.
There we were – a dad with his two boys on Father’s Day with race tickets and pit passes. It was something that would be a lasting memory for all three of us. Just as I thought about how great it was going to be, something happened – NASCAR made the day even better.
I began researching the MIS website for rules and regulations like what we could bring in and the things that were not allowed. Being a huge NASCAR fan but not getting to many races it came as a little bit of a surprise to me that we were allowed to each bring in two soft-sided coolers with food and drinks (yes, beer included) as long as they were not in glass containers.
The more digging I did, I found out that parking around the racetrack was free. Yes, I said free. I do not mean you park five miles away and then have to jump on a bus or shuttle to get to the track, either, because we parked right across from the track and walked over to the gates.
Having gone to plenty of professional sporting events over the past few years and then a concert just last weekend, I was prepared for sticker shock when it came to merchandise and concessions but I was left to shake my head in a positive way as everything was reasonably priced. I ended up getting two shirts and a hat for $50.
Three hours before the green flag dropped, I decided to go to Twitter on my phone, where I discovered that NASCAR was doing a fan tweet-up at the track and would be giving away prizes. I made my way over there where I met Josh Hamilton of the NASCAR PR team who does a great job on Twitter of keeping fans updated on what is happening in the sport.
NASCAR had teamed up with Office Depot for some great giveaways, including gift cards. I walked away with a $25 gift card to Office Depot and a Kevin Harvick can koozie. Try finding out the last time that happened at an Indians game.
All I kept thinking all day was how much NASCAR has embraced their fans and has not priced the true die-hards out of the sport. Sure, some tickets were expensive, but you could get tickets for as low as $30 which is a great price when you do not have to pay to park and you can bring in your own refreshments.
We have all been to a sporting event and complained about ticket prices and the cost of parking. We ask if there is a loan center nearby when we want a hot dog or a beer or even God forbid a shirt to remember the event we attended. That was not the case with NASCAR this past weekend.
Maybe it is time for the NBA, NFL and MLB to look at the model that NASCAR has established instead of whining over who is making this million and who is making that million. In case they have not noticed, ballparks and stadiums are a lot less full today then they have been in the past. NASCAR gets that – and they make every effort to keep their fans happy.
I know they made us happy – and that was all I truly wanted for my dad on Father’s Day.