Eddie Gossage has done a number of things that can be considered wacky. He's had monkeys sell programs, had a man fly in on a jet pack and pulled off an April Fools' joke where he offered a radio host $100,000 to change his name to TexasMotorSpeedway.com.
But TMS' president and promoter extraordinaire even had his boss, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith, calling him crazy with his latest promotion idea.
Gossage announced plans Monday to reduce ticket prices on more than 15,000 seats for the 2013 racing season and also said there would be no price increases.
That might not sound crazy to racing fans, of course, but it couldn't have been anticipated -- even with NASCAR's attendance hurting nationwide. An estimated 159,000 fans attended the Samsung Mobile 500 at TMS last April, a number that stood as the best-attended race for the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
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"We drew the biggest crowd of 2012, so it runs against the thought of how you do business with the free enterprise system," Gossage said. "If you're selling out or doing well, you raise prices....But the best way to show you're fan friendly is to lower your prices."
There are approximately 8,000 tickets on the frontstretch that will be priced at $49 for the Cup races, down from $86 in 2012. The seats are on the corners and in the first 10 rows between the frontstretch and Turns 1 and 4.
The $49 price, though, is the least expensive a frontstretch ticket has been since 1998, and Gossage admitted those sections haven't been as full as they could be.
"This is a way to try and pump that up," he said. "We've been going through an economic downturn the last five years or so. It's better to keep fans engaged at $49 than to lose them over $55.
"When the economy comes back around, and it will eventually, then they're still with us and we can creep those ticket prices back up. Quite honestly, you're trying to keep people and families involved."
More seats, roughly 7,400, along the frontstretch in the first 10 rows that are closer to the start/finish line also have been reduced from $92 to $79 for Cup races.
TMS revamped its children's ticket prices, as well. For kids 12 and under, frontstretch tickets are as low as $25 for Cup races and are available for discounted prices at every price point. The highest-priced seat, for instance, is $140 for adults while the price drops to $125 for children.
While the track is doing several price reductions to make it more affordable for fans, Gossage made it clear that not every seat's price is being lowered.
"You pay more for a quality seat," Gossage said. "We're lowering the bottom end [frontstretch tickets] to get more people where they can see the pits and start/finish line."
But fans who already have paid full price for tickets that have since been reduced can call and get a refund or credit toward a future race.
Gossage announced several other "fan-fueled" initiatives that came from the track's 22-person fan council. Randomly selected fans met with TMS officials in person and by conference call four times to suggest track improvements. Two members of the fan council, Brenda Baxter of Frisco and Robert Rich of Addison, were on hand Monday to help Gossage introduce the new initiatives.
Among those being implemented include:
No smoking in the grandstands: There will be designated areas throughout the concourse for smokers to use.
Revamped rainout policy: If a ticket holder can't make a rescheduled event, he will have the ability to redeem that ticket for a future event at equal or lesser value for up to one calendar year.
Flexible payment plans: Fans can devise a payment plan for both season and individual tickets that fits their budget with the TMS ticket office.
New website: The track will unveil a new website on Feb. 18 as well as a mobile lite site. The website will feature a list of race-friendly hotels.
A trendy treat
Eddie Gossage believes TMS' newest concession stand item will be a hit.
Gossage said the track will begin selling bacon-flavored cotton candy this year, a creation made by the track's chef, Joel Pena. The cotton candy is bacon-flavored and topped with bacon bits.
"Honestly, who is going to turn down bacon when given the opportunity?" Gossage said.