Dover Speedway to Reduce Seating - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Speedway to Reduce Seating

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) – NASCAR drivers are revving their engines for a big weekend at Dover International Speedway. As the crowds pour into the stands to watch the race, speedway officials are focusing on the empty seats.

During NASCAR weekend in June, sports fans took to twitter, pointing out the barren background.

Keith Ruffing and his friends drove all day from Minnesota to Dover for this weekend's Sprint Cup race. He has noticed the change.

“It is noticeable on TV. When you watch the race on TV, you do notice the empty seats,” said Ruffing.

Dover Motorsports President and CEO Denis McGlynn says it's not just the economy that has caused sagging attendance.

“The older demographics are sort of aging out and the younger kids aren't coming in at the same rate to make up for those, for the vacuum that's created,” said McGlynn.

Dover officials are planning on getting rid of some of the seats, to change the aesthetics.

It's been done before. In 2001, the track could seat 135,000 people. McGlynn said by 2011, the track had a capacity of 109,000 people.

Local Nascar fans have picked up on the decline in attendance.

“It's happening all over. Getting rid of seats is probably what they have to do to survive,” said George Pettyjohn of Dover.

“ The attendance and the traffic has definitely gone down a lot over the last couple of years. Definitely not the problem that it used to be,” said Michael Duckett of Dover.

McGlynn said Dover's attendance is in line with 85 percent of other races on the circuit. He said the plan to reduce seats is to reflect that.

As far as what to do with the empty space? “We're going to bring in a design architect who's familiar with sports arenas to help us determine what's the best alternative use, if any, for the space we're going to be taking down,” said McGlynn.

McGlynn said they will keep the option open to add seats if the economy improves. There is no word on how many seats they plan to get rid of, but officials hope to have phase one completed by this spring.
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