Monday, July 2, 2012

F1's hopes destroyed in the US again

[Hello to those from the FB link - just learned this entry was linked there.] Americans don't get Formula 1 racing. It's been said time and time again but it's true. The latest evidence of this is the seating fiasco at the new Austin circuit - "Circuit Of The Americas". The best seats for F1 are the main grandstands opposite the pits, or on turn 1. These seats are generally expensive, but open to all at every other F1 race. In America though, they seem to think that this track is a baseball stadium, because the premium seats are only available as a season ticket (as oppose to per-event) and then only if you first pre-purchase the right to purchase a season ticket.
From their website:
"PREMIUM SEATING IS ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH THE PURCHASE OF THE PSL. THE PSL (PERSONAL SEAT LICENSE) IS A ONE TIME PAYMENT PER SEAT THAT WILL GIVE YOU OWNERSHIP RIGHTS TO PURCHASE SEASON TICKETS AT COTA FOR UP TO 15 YEARS. OWNING A PSL WILL GET YOU ACCESS TO THE MOST DESIRABLE VIEWING AREAS, EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO PURCHASE TICKETS TO OTHER RACE SERIES, PRE-SALE OPPORTUNITY FOR MAJOR CONCERTS AND THE RIGHT TO PURCHASE ON-SITE PARKING."
In other words, you can't get grandstand seats for just the F1 race - you have to commit to a whole season of events. For 15 years. Nobody's going to do that. My guess is that the FIA will pull the race from the circuit after 2013 once this becomes widely known.The worst part of this is that you have to fill in a 'pre-authorisation' request and then their PSL reps will contact you with a price - ie. they won't even publish the prices online, like it's some sort of exclusive club or something.
Doing this is basically reserving the best seats at the track for the ultra-rich - the Donald Trumps and Mitt Romneys of the world - who are so stratospherically high into the 1% that they don't even know what money is any more.
Look - F1 is an expensive spectator sport - as F1 fans, we know this - but to expect us to pre-pay for 15 years of tickets just demonstrates a comprehensive lack of understanding of F1 and the sort of people who watch it.
Way to go Circuit Of The Americas - I guess you really didn't want to give F1 a chance after all.

33 comments:

David said...

Frankly I can't see either the FIA or Bernie Ecclestone being chuffed by this. The FIA doesn't really have jurisdiction over spectators, only track operation, and Ecclestone frankly doesn't care where the money comes from as long as he gets paid.

Still pretty stonkingly bonkers though.

Paul said...

From what I understand the only income tracks get is from bums in seats. All track advertising, income from TV etc. goes to Formula One Management (FOM, Bernie's empire).

So it's in the best interest of COTA to get the seats sold. I'd say that, if they're not sold, the policy will change closer to the GP

All I know is that my wife and I have our seats reserved at turn 12 :-)

Anonymous said...

PSL prices are posted on the website, so you obviously haven't done too much research. While I think PSLs are silly and may not be the best business decision, you don't seem to know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

This track in the armpit of Travis County (not even in Austin, its "Elory") is a joke to the locals. Of course there are a few hundred die hard F1 fans (really nice folks) that have been drug through the mud on this thing. City officials and boosters are on board, blinded by the $$$ from the reality that there is no where to stay when you get here. There are 30,000 hotels in Austin and they think 90,000 are going to stay an hour an a half away in San Antonio? With that much traffic it will be a three hour ride to San Antonio. Ill conceived and ill prepared, Circuit of the Americas is. See you in New Jersey sometime in 2014.

stan said...

wow, it took me all of 30 seconds to find the exact pricing of every PSL at circuit of the americas.

http://circuitoftheamericas.com/tickets-psl/ticket_page/the-main-grandstand

http://circuitoftheamericas.com/tickets-psl/ticket_page/turn-1

are you just lazy or do you just want to talk crap on the track?

do you have any idea what you are doing?

Steve C said...

Chris, you can get a grandstand seat just for F1 but it will cost you because you'll have to but the PSL as well. You then get the option to attend the other events if you want. ALL or damn close to all major sporting venues in North America do they same thing.

There are 20 turns in which you can buy tickets for. Stop crying about the PSLs and get a ticket elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Lame article. You have no clue and not even brave enough to ad your name to it

Anonymous said...

PSL works for NASCAR, but I wouldn't have thought there would be enough demand for it to work in F1. I get to go for free because I'm one of the race marshals! Had a tour of the place on Saturday. Impressive. And pretty good for a Herman Tilke track.

Anonymous said...

Lol, the super rich like "Mitt Romney and Donald Trump." Of all the "super rich" that's what you came up with?

These PSL's are already being bought up. Corporations pick them up so they have a myriad of attractions to use on guests or employees. The PSL gives you first access to every event of the year, which for COTA will be many things including concerts. This is exactly how Joe Schmo ends up sitting behind home plate when the home team plays a nobody. Those tickets get dumped on someone's project manager because "they did such a wonderful job the last couple of years they really deserve it" and when he doesn't want them he shops them out to the entire church...
But one things for sure, those will get sold.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty common in the U.S. College basketball and football and the NFL all use a seat license system. Frankly, I have no problem with it whatsoever and can't WAIT for the race in November. Now, the hotel issue...that's another story.

photobriangray said...

You are pretty much an idiot. The PSL has been a part of the track's financial plan from very early (I have emails from 2011 about ticketing and it was very much publicized when the process was formalized. That is how you sell things. You tell people about it and they decide to buy or not. Google is your friend.

http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120122/f1/120129966
http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1072036_circuit-of-the-americas-offers-personal-seat-licenses
http://www.statesman.com/sports/formula1/austin-circuit-organizers-offering-personal-seat-licenses-2117002.html

I completed the first survey concerning ticket pricing and a seating packages in July last year.

I'm not rich, just a fan of racing and specifically F1. I wanted what was offered by the PSL and bought it. Why? To not have to deal with getting online the day the tix go on sale to buy my seat. To not wonder where I'll be sitting this November and each November moving forward. To get access to on site parking. To have access to the air conditioned club level. To have the first right of refusal for any event added to the calendar. To potentially sell my seat license if I don't realize the anticipated added value of the PSL.

The seat license is very common in all sports when new facilities are built. Don't be shocked when the grandstands in Jersey are PSL only.

Anonymous said...

You can buy tickets for T1 and T15 at formula1.com.

If you can't afford $900-$1500 for those tickets, you shouldn't be complaining. It's Formula 1.

BTW, PSL prices have been on their web-site for more than a few months. If you just clicked on "buy tickets now", then you still won't see those prices. You have to scroll down the page for each PSL turn (T1, T15, etc.) to see the pricing. Yes, it's not obvious, but it's untrue to say that it's not there.

But then again, this is just some random blog. We can't expect world-class journalism from some random voice on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

I am stunned by the lack of research and misinformation posted by the blogger. As many have said, the PSL policy and prices have been published for months. There are also grandstand seats available that don't require the purchase of a PSL and range in price from $299 to $499.

The publicized hotel and transportation will be a problem, but I don't see how this is much different than Silverstone.

Chris said...

For all of those calling me lazy - go to circuitoftheamericas.com. Click 'tickets' at the top of the page (or any of the three main links on the front page). Under 'premium grandstand seating' click "click here to buy now". That gets you to the 'now available' page. Now click "BUY NOW" under any of the four areas and you'll get a page telling you fill in a form so that a "premium sales representative" can contact you. So I'm sorry if clicking on the "buy now" buttons doesn't actually allow me to buy anything, but that hardly makes me lazy.

As for not posting my name - umm - look on the right hand side of the blog. Where it says "Chris". PS. The irony of an anonymous poster making that comment is beyond words.

Look - the PSL is expensive, and it alienates true F1 fans. At every other circuit on the calendar there is no restriction on any seat. If you want a grandstand seat, you buy a ticket and watch the race. Nowhere else do you have to commit to a long-term contract. I know this is how America might do things, but this is not how F1 does things. Look at the fans everywhere else in the world. They're not going to want to buy a PSL just to get a seat, so they're not going to bother. Yes there are plenty of other grandstands around the circuit but they don't afford a view of the main straight which is a very entertaining place to be during pit stops and in the pre-race sessions when all the activity surrounds the cars on the grid. That's where a lot of fans would like to be and it's the one place COTA has made absolutely sure we can't be without spending a small fortune.

I'm used to stellar prices for F1 events but $2,500 for the cheapest main straight ticket is just taking the piss. I can get two three-day main straight passes and four nights in a hotel in Singapore for that price. AND I don't have to commit to going back for the next 15 years.

VFacundo said...

Chris, I posted a link of your blog comments on the Friends of Formula 1 Facebook page. Our followers haven't received your point of view very well. To be fair I posted your last comment on our page to give you equal time. Best regards, Vance

Chris said...

vfacundo - that's fine. I figured someone had linked me given the sudden volume of posts :)
I have no problem with these comments.

Anonymous said...

This statement is incorrect:

"I'm used to stellar prices for F1 events but $2,500 for the cheapest main straight ticket is just taking the piss."

You can purchase T1 tickets by going to this link:

http://www.formula1.com/races/in_detail/united_states_882/circuit_diagram.html

Then click on "Book Race Tickets".

The cheapest T1 tickets are $876.80 plus fees.

So you're about $1600 off.

Chris said...

I'm talking about the PSL tickets linked earlier. The cheapest was $2000 for the PSL plus $500 for a season ticket. = $2500.
T1 != main grandstand.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree that T1 != main grandstand, you can still see the main straight from T1 if we are to believe that the pictures posted on the T1 web page is accurate:

http://circuitoftheamericas.com/tickets-psl/ticket_page/turn-1

Look, you just need to admit that you didn't look hard enough for ticket pricing, and just leave it at that.

We all want F1 to succeed in the U.S. and it doesn't help to keep complaining about every thing that COTA does wrong. It's the first time they're doing this and if they want to sustain it, they're going to have to fix what doesn't go well this time around.

Finally, we're dealing with crazy Bernie. Anything that anybody does isn't going to be good enough for his constantly-changing whim. He doesn't give a sh*t as long as he gets his advertising/promotional dollars.

Chris said...

Yeah you're right - if the T1 sightlines are as good as they say it'll be a good vantage point for the first-corner panic.
I'll admit I've looked around their site again today and I still can't find the actual PSL prices without the direct links posted elsewhere in these comments. Where are they? Every time I get as far as a "buy now" button it takes me to the same page asking for callback info.

I'd love F1 to succeed here - not least of which because my travel costs will be less. Airbnb solves the accomodation problem if you can get in early. I just really have a bone to pick about this damned PSL thing. And yes I'm just some random commenter on the interwebs but it provoked some interesting comments. I was at the final fiaso of a race in Indy where the tyre manufacturers said 'no race' and that was a huge disappointment. (And FWIW I didn't need a PSL for main straight grandstand seating there.)

Miller kept banging on about getting F1 to come to the new motorsports park here in Utah but he never really followed through. Nowhere near enough seating / accomodation / revenue potential. The track is great for a trackday blast and WSB but I can't really see F1 ever being there.

Anonymous said...

Your whining blog entry is very misinformed.

You can get tickets for as little as $53 a day. You get access to the entire track, you just don't get a cushioned seat.

If you want the best seats, you will have to pay for them. This is America, quit your whining and make some money.

Hustler said...

It's better than going to the race at Silverstone.

Chris said...

@Hustler - no argument from me. Silverstone is mess.

Tim said...

All N. American sports venues do this? Not the race tracks, Steve.

Tim said...

Seriously? They aren't selling like you think. 3-4k have been sold.

Tim said...

It's not common for motorsport venues. They simply do not offer the frequent and varied high-profile content that allows a PSL purchase to make sense to the consumer.

Tim said...

"it alienates true F1 fans".

Indeed. This point cannot be overstated, imho.

Tim said...

True F1 fans are those most knowledgeable of the true nature of the cost and tribulations of attending other F1 GPs, and most likely to understand how much is being done wrong with this approach.

Anonymous said...

He said "main straight", not T1. T1 is T1. He's right.

Anonymous said...

As previously noted, PSL's are exceedingly rare in motorsport. They are not "very common in all sports".

Paul said...

Good grief, read what Chris writes! He is specifically talking about the makin straight, not T1.

jordan said...

Was this for last year? What ended up being the best seat?

T1?

Chris said...

It's for all years. Last year the best seats were T1 grandstand or end of the pit straight.