FORT WORTH, Texas — Common sense apparently isn’t something NASCAR is interested in using when it comes to scheduling races. There’s no explanation why one of Texas Motor Speedway’s two biggest weekends is taking place with the Final Four coming to town.
“They were completely inflexible, which was completely disappointing,” track president Eddie Gossage said. “Nobody wins in those kinds of things, and I don’t know why they were completely inflexible.”
Gossage said that simply switching dates with another track isn’t as easy as it may seem, as a particular track might have a festival or other local events tied to those weekends. Still, a mega-event such as the Final Four should have been an exception to alter plans.
But since common sense didn’t prevail, Gossage and TMS are embracing the Final Four and dubbing this the “ultimate” sports weekend. Gossage said ticket sales are about what they usually are at this point and, because the Final Four is largely a corporate event, the track has sold multiple suites and blocks of seats to companies that have employees and clients in town.
Tickets to the Final Four, meanwhile, shape up to be the toughest tickets in recent years, with an all-session trip going for $1,185, according to SeatGeek.
TMS has partnered with PrimeSport to sell an all-inclusive package with tickets to the Final Four games on Saturday and Monday, and the Duck Commander 500 on Sunday.
Gossage also hopes to see a change in walk-up sales. Races rarely do well during day-of sales, Gossage said, because most fans purchase tickets more than six months in advance.
If that trend were to change, it seems like this would be the year. Fans from Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky will be flooding the area and could be intrigued to take in a race between the semifinals and championship game.
TMS has a direct connection to race fans in Kentucky; its parent company Speedway Motorsports also owns Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, which has approximately 100,000 fans on its email data base.
“This sets up well,” Gossage said. “Florida has two speedways in the state — Daytona and Homestead — so there are lots of race fans there. We have a speedway in Kentucky, so we know those fans.
“Connecticut isn’t big racing territory, so that’s an opportunity. And Wisconsin is particularly exciting because they have lots of avid fans and tons of local short tracks there. We’re going to target those markets and see what we can do.”
Gossage also believes that the track’s new “Big Hoss TV” could be another reason for Final Four fans to make the trip to north Fort Worth and see a video board larger than the one at AT&T Stadium.
“All we can do is make sure they know it’s an option,” Gossage said. “You can play golf anywhere. The race is a great option whether their team wins or loses. You can celebrate with a beer or soak your tears in a beer at the race.
“What a great weekend for North Texas to have both going on. Of course we’d rather not have any competition, but it’s an opportunity. We’ll see how it turns out.”
The NCAA, on the other hand, doesn’t worry too much about other events in town and didn’t contact NASCAR about moving the TMS race. The Final Four is an event in itself and becomes the biggest attraction in whatever city it’s in.
“Like all Final Four cities, the North Texas region is a large area with a diverse population with diverse interests,” NCAA spokesman David Worlock said. “While we feel that the Final Four is one of the premier sporting events in the world, the fact is no matter what weekend we staged the event, there were going to be competing activities for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.
“It is not uncommon for the Final Four to be staged in a city with another popular sporting event taking place, such as Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season.”