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Indy hopes to build on good vibrations

Fuller grandstands and interest in Free Friday offer hope for the future, Toronto Indy owners say.

Published July 20, 2010
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The Honda Indy Toronto was noticeably better attended than a year ago, when there were large gaps in the grandstands and lots of empty seats in corporate hospitality suites.

In the words of one executive, “there was a good vibe around the place.”

At the conclusion of the 24th Toronto Indy, the owners and promoters of the event — who say that, in keeping with the policy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they won’t issue attendance figures — met the media to declare the race a success. But they also acknowledged there was much work ahead to get the race back to where it was a decade ago.

Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, whose company Green-Savoree Promotions owns and promotes the IndyCar series race in St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as Toronto, said they were satisfied with this year’s attendance — with reservations.

Said Savoree: “We’ll sit down, go over everything and look at the numbers, but I think I can safely say that year over year — and this is just year two of a five-year plan — we couldn’t be happier.”

Said Green, who figures attendance was up substantially: “I can remember back in the late ’90s when this event was reportedly just about sold out every year, but so much has changed since then and there is just so much more to do in Toronto now than there was 10 years ago. We have to remember that.”

Both men, as well as event general manager Charlie Johnston, agreed that the Free Friday promotion in which admission was waived in return for a donation to the Make-A-Wish Canada children’s charity was everything they’d hoped it would be.

“I think it will just get better and better,” said Savoree, adding that often people hear that something is free but think there is a string attached. “They’ll know (in 2011) that free really means free and I think you’ll see more people here next year than this.”

Added Green: “If there was one thing I wish I could change (about the free day), it would be that I’d been at the main gate on Friday with earplugs for the children,” adding that some parents who brought their kids didn’t realize the extent of the noise.

Johnstone said if there was one thing he could take away from the weekend, it would be that “there was a good vibe around the place. Several people mentioned that to me.”

Johnstone acknowledged that there was some criticism following last year’s race, but that the event had listened and made changes accordingly.

“I haven’t heard anything negative this year,” he said.