Ticket revenues at NASCAR tracks fall again

The three public companies that operate racetracks reported a tick downward in ticket revenues in 2015 as they attempt to turn around what has become an eight-year trend.

International Speedway Corp., Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Dover Motorsports combined to sell $238.8 million in tickets in 2015, down from $239.2 million in 2014, according to their annual reports. SMI was the last to issue its annual financials Wednesday.

Those figures include tickets for non-NASCAR events, but NASCAR races make up a large majority of the ticket sales at the tracks. ISC, 72 percent of whose stock is owned by the NASCAR-owning France family, has 20 of the 38 Sprint Cup events, while SMI, controlled by Bruton Smith and family, has 13 events and Dover has two.

Pocono Raceway, which hosts two races, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are privately owned and do not have to report financial figures.

The 0.17 percent drop from 2014 to 2015 could show some stabilization. Ticket revenues dropped 9.1 percent in 2012, 6.5 percent in 2013 and 2.5 percent in 2014. The 2015 figures for the three companies is 49 percent below their all-time high of $467.4 million in 2007.

Tracks at the three public companies have eliminated more than 428,000 seats -- 23 percent of their capacity -- since 2007 in order to create increased demand.

ISC reported that its Sprint Cup tickets sold in 2015 went for an average price of $86.10, up slightly from $85.82 in 2014, with grandstand capacity at 89 percent in 2015, up from 87 percent in 2014. It also reported that its six Chase for the Sprint Cup races had a 4 percent increase in attendance.

The money the companies earned from tickets pales to what they earn from the NASCAR television package, of which the tracks get 65 percent. They took in about $407.1 million in broadcast rights in 2015.

The three companies reported that combined profits from core operations were up 4.6 percent in 2015. ISC's net income was $56.63 million while Dover's was at $5.29 million.

SMI reported a loss of $34.5 million, but that includes a loss of $96.53 million from the devaluation of New Hampshire, from its $340 million purchase in 2008, with a $38 million tax benefit.