MP: I've seen the same things, but are you also seeing the metrics that support the visuals?
MM: Well, there's the esoteric side of it and there's the data. And the data is excellent. The Grand Prix had a crowd that was above 60,000.
I felt that we didn't get a big lift in the attendance for qualifying but I thought that the storylines were excellent. And we've gotten really good feedback about that. I think the crowd will build as people understand it better. The truth is, we probably took a little air out of the market, given so many people showing up on the weekend before. But I was very pleased with qualifying.
Carb Day, I had a bunch of people come and say, "this is the '80s." There was just so much energy and so many people. And then last night, I don't know if you were out here, but the Jason Aldean concert was a sea of people – there were 45,000 people out there
. The concert, the only reason not to do it was whether it would be a commercial success. In our minds, no matter whether they're race fans or not, if we can get people out here it helps – and by the way, they were showing Indy 500 promo spots, before, during and after, and Firestone spots up around the stage, [to] 45,000 people
So one, will it work? Yes, it was an economic success. But the other was, will they clear out? Because there's a lot of work to do to clean up, drop the stage and get 45,000 people out so you can do all the things that you need to do, security things and the like, overnight. They were out of here by 9 o'clock. And we didn't keep the drivers awake. The band shut down way before they were going to bed. And ticket sales in both dollars and units are up for the 500 and I think they're going to surprise themselves today.
On top of all that, the place itself has to be vibrant and headed in the right direction, which I think it is. But that relates to the national television audience. We had five times more people watch IndyCar racing this May here, prior to today, than we did last year. Part of that is because we didn't go back and forth between broadcasters except on Carb Day. ABC has a bigger audience, but they could promote from weekend to weekend to weekend. If you watched "SportsCenter" this week you saw the "500" telecast being promoted. We'll see what happens today, but already the national audience has had the same kind of lift in a sense that we've had here locally.