Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) officials confirmed on Friday that the Indianapolis 500 will feature fans in the stand, but attendance will be limited. The 104th Indy 500, which is rescheduled for August 23, will be held at 50 percent of fan capacity. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest sporting venue in the world, has permanent seating capacity for over 235,000 people.
The infield seating increases the capacity to around a whopping 400,000 people. The Indy 500, one of the biggest annual sporting events, typically bringing in around 275,000 fans -- meaning that the 2020 race may still be attended by over 100,000 people.
IMS is currently working on a health and safety plan to ensure that fans who are present have the least exposure to the coronavirus as possible. IMS President J. Douglas Boles gave some details of what the modified seating will look like:
"We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50 percent of venue capacity, and we are also finalizing a number of additional carefully considered health and safety measures. We'll unveil the specific details of our comprehensive plan in the coming weeks ... We will implement enhanced health and safety measures across nearly all facets of our August events. One key pillar of our plan is to realign seating to allow for more space between customers on race day."
IMS is contacting fans with tickets and encouraging high risk individuals to stay home and use the credit for a 2021 race. They will honor at least 50% of everyone's orders, but if more than half of fans choose to keep their tickets, additional purchases could be moved to another section of the stands.
Boles said the ultimate goal is to "to accommodate at least 50% of your original ticket quantities in or near your current seating location."
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske stated earlier in the month that the Indy 500 would only run the race if fans were permitted.
"Trust me, we are going to run it [Indianapolis 500] with fans," he said. "We're on for fans in August and planning on it and we feel good. It's still almost three months from now and I think we'll be OK. But we will run it only with fans."
He was willing to move the race to October if that's what it took to have fans in the seats, but right now it does not look like that will be necessary. The race was originally scheduled for May 24, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.