Fans Notice Lots of Empty Seats at Dover - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Fans Notice Lots of Empty Seats at Dover

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - There were a lot of empty seats in Dover International Speedway for this Sunday's race. The sport's fans certainly noticed it. 

NASCAR stopped releasing attendance numbers for all of its tracks after 2012. Dover has held about 135,000 people at some past races. It was easy to see Sunday's attendance wasn't anywhere near that. 

Social media was abuzz with people talking about the empty seats. Fans at the track noticed, too. Connie Shyka has been coming from Vineland, NJ, to races at Dover for more than a decade.  

Reporter: over the course of that time what's changed?

"The amount of fans attending the race, for one thing," Shyka replied. "This place used to be packed."

She estimates half the stands were full.

The Associated Press reports Denis McGlynn, CEO of Dover Motorsports, actually told drivers ahead of the race to expect that sight. He told WBOC Friday the down economy hit NASCAR's fan base hard.  

"Until we get them all back with money in their pockets, we're going to struggle. You're going to see some empty holes in the grandstand."

It surely hits local business. 

"Less people spending money, buying gas, buying groceries," said Judy Diogo, head of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce. "But the thing we have to keep remembering is the races here in Dover still bring people in twice a year. Those are people who otherwise would not have been here."

Kent County Tourism says hotels in Dover have felt the attendance drop-off even though the town's rooms were basically all full this weekend. But Dover only has about 2,700 rooms in the first place, so tourism officials say it would be very difficult to not fill them. 

Despite the fact that there aren't specific attendance numbers speedway officials say attendance for this weekend was about where it was for last year's spring races. 
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