Now it's Spa's turn.


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According to this link, Bernies latest suggestion is to rotate Spa and the Nurburgring GPs to ensure Hockenheim remains on the calendar is a full time fixture. ... /view.html

The argument would appear to be that Spa is suffering from falling attendance and is finacially struggleing and we already know that the Ring can't afford to run a race every year and neither can Hockenheim. Due to the ring being so close to Spa, Bernie argues that those tracks can rotate a GP and Hockenheim will then be free to hold the German GP every year.

As usual it's one of the best tracks of the year (Spa) that has to suffer to meet the CVC demands.

It wouldn't be so bad if it was the old Hockenheim before half the track was cut off. It's a shadow of the circuit that it once was and is it really worth having more than Spa??

It will be a great day for F1 when CVC clear their debt.
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo <breath> ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Great that opens the door for the Mumbai Grand Prix, bet we are all really happy about that idea
just to give you an idea what we talk about: on august 3rd 36 000 tickets were sold for the whole 2009 spa f1 race weekend. 4 000 of those after the announcement of michael, inlcuding 1 000 in the last weekend of july. the hope now is a total of 70 000 tickets sold. the record for racing day attendance at spa stands at 50 000.

spa in 2008 sold for the whole weekend 52 000 tickets and needed 65 000 to break even. the total loss was over 3.8 million euro. the reason given in the wallon parliament for this was the new date of the race and the financial crisis.

so from a number of spectators point of view, spa really is pretty small. also, the potential financial risk of the race is an issue in view that it has to be covered by a regional government. not by the national government.

just a comparison, silverstone draws around 300 000 spectators in an F1 weekend and the record for f1 is 500 000. turkey however, in 2008 drew 40 000 spectators on racing day.
On the other side of the coin are the ticket prices.

I was thinking about going back to Spa next year (if it was on the calendar of course) and had a look at prices. I was staggered to see a general admission ticket for the weekend (no grandstand seat) going for an average of €150. A grandstand seat, incredibly, would be €300-€500.

At the Spa 24 Hours GT race, a couple of weeks ago, general admission was €25 and grandstand seats were free.

Why the disparity in prices? Because F1 has a unique ownership arrangement (which we're all familiar with) while the FIA GT championship is promoted by the Stephane Ratel Organisation, who didn't take on a mountain of debt to buy it, and who run their championship for the benefit of the participants and fans, rather than their shareholders/lendors. Oh yes, and who still seem to be doing very nicely out of it, too.

this is clearly a chicken and egg situation. i agree with your statement on entrance fees, but at the same time, there should be enough people in the surroundings to visit the races. somehow a 24 hour GT race is not the same as an F1 race. i am not saying one is better then another! neither am i saying what is value for money and what is not.

i understand the prices for other F1 races are pretty hefty too. a seat at the italian GP on the grandstand is about euro 250 to 415.

what i am saying is that the belgian F1 does not attract a lot of spectators and its supported by a local government. so there is a reason why this race is more difficult to sustain.
Of course this is true, boga. It doesn't help that Spa passes through the boundaries of two regional councils as well, requiring agreement from both.

But the topography prevents the construction of grandstands, as at Silverstone and most other tracks. Much of the circuit is barely accessible on foot, and some parts are out of bounds to spectators for safety reasons. So looking at a headline figure of 50,000 doesn't tell the whole story.

Indianapolis had 200,000 seats and they still wouldn't pay what Bernie wanted.
Boga, for me it's quite simple.
Drop the ticket prices and more people will attend.
At several hundred Euros per ticket it is a luxury a lot of fans can't afford.

As we know the high ticket prices are necessary to recoup the huge cost of hosting the GP.
And the cost is so high becuase CVC have to service their debt.

The problem goes back to CVC/Bernie as the root cause.
If they hadn't taken on so much debt, they wouldn't have to charge the circuits so much to hold GPs and consequently the circuits wouldn't have to charge so much for tickets.

This situation will never end until CVC have ended their debt and even then I doubt it will as they have become used to commanding huge prices for GPs.

In contrast a ticket to a BTCC race is £20 or as GM points out, tickets for a Spa GT race were €25.
Look at the ticket prices for Valencia, one of the dullest circuits in any series:
These prices were fixed before MS announced his return.

F1 is unique in the prices it charges to host GPs and make no mistake, it is slowly killing off local attendance.
And without that the sport will die.
Another point I seem to remember, going back to the early 80's was that a grandstsnd ticket at spa was little more than general entry to the UK GP, general entry was the cheapest in Europe, by some margin.

The overall cost is not the only factor, but the rate of increase must have killed the local market for tickets.
now now guys, dont kill the messenger :)

spa attendance has always been pretty much the same. around 50K visitors. as GM notes, the geography is not really ideal for an F1 circuit. last year the race had problems cos of a change in date and the economical crisis. this led to a loss that had to be covered by the regional council. expectations are for these losses to get worse cos now sponsors also start to disappear.

this leads to a situation where the future of F1 in spa could be under threat. no one wants that.

i understand the arguments that the big bad guy in this is bernie and his deal with CVC, debts and all that stuff. and i do believe dropping ticket prices might work for circuits like silverstone or imola. but for spa... i am not sure at all. first of all, there is much less room in spa. dropping prices only works if more people will come at lower prices. but i am not at all sure things work that way. especially not in these times.

so the point is, what do we do with circuits we want to keep but have financial issues. i think the idea of bernie is not a bad one. i prefer spa every second year to no spa at all.
The value of the race can't be calculated purely on the basis of ticket prices and attendance, though. I would guess that Spa gets better than average TV audiences? It's also an excellent showcase for F1 - the speed of the cars, the bravery of the drivers - and it deserves to be retained for this reason.

Unfortunately the only thing CVC think about is the bottom line. This obliges Bernie to find the 17 circuits who are able to pay the highest fees. If the teams were also the owners, they could allow some circuits to pay less than others, because of the commercial advantage to the sponsors of having a race in a particular market (e.g. USA, Canada, France) or at a particular location (Spa, Monza, Suzuka). It wouldn't just be a question of mathematics, and that's part of the reason that I supported the breakaway.
I think CVC's world is going to, very soon, come crashing around their ankles. It seems that there are very few places around the world willing to pay to hold F1. Simply put, they have to reconsider their strategy before they're left with only Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Singapore left on the calendar.
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