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Aging race fans are the ones with the money

Dec 16, 2008 5:05 PM
by Ray Poirier | For years, racing executives have lamented the fact that the senior set dominated their tracks’ dwindling number of attendees. Thus, their marketing departments have been focusing on introducing younger people to the sport.

The subject came up last week in Tucson, Arizona, where the annual Racing Symposium attracted several hundred executives to discuss racing’s problems.

One writer for an industry newspaper noted that there were many efforts used to attract the mid-20’s set to the tracks but there were few ideas proposed on how to get them to spend money on their visits.

No one questioned whether they had the money to spend except for a representative of Harness Tracks of America.

As reported by Stan Bergstein, HTA executive director, his assistant Brody Johnson, took a different view.

"Every conference I go to," Johnson wrote, "the panelists and audience all get up to preach about how important it is that we focus our efforts on recruiting the young crowd. $1 beer nights, free concerts, cheap food, get them in the door at whatever cost is always the message.

"Crowds are great, exposure is great, but people in the college age bracket don’t have much in the way of disposable income, and the next older generation has kids, mortgages, student loans and car payments.

"Why won’t racing accept the fact that we have the target audience with the most disposable income of any bracket, 45 and older males?" he asked.

The subject will be explored further at the Fifth Annual Racing Congress to be held at the Bellagio Hotel Resort in Las Vegas in February.