The Indianapolis Motor Speedway says it is lifting the television blackout for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month. The announcement was made as IMS unveiled its plan for safely hosting the race that includes a maximum of 25% of capacity and a requirement that fans wear face masks. According to IMS, the 88-page plan was developed over the last four months by a team of officials in Indy, as well as national health experts.
During a conference call with reporters, Penske Entertainment Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mark Miles talked about the need to have the race.
“We believe it’s important that we have a race, that we have this race to set a high standard and an example for how people can come together today under the right procedures,” said Miles. “We’re going to bring people, some in the venue, fewer than normal in the venue, and many more on television, a lot of joy at a time when they really need it and we’re going to showcase a responsible and cautious way to host an event. We take that responsibility very seriously. We’ll continue to monitor our plan and make adjustments to the plan right through race day so that every possible precaution can be in place.”
In addition to the reduced attendance and mask requirement, the plan calls for reassigned seating to accommodate social distancing and temperature screening for everyone entering the track. Those with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will be prohibited from entering the Speedway.
All drinking fountains and misting stations will be removed. The plan also calls for capacity limits on elevators, limiting options at concession stands to mostly pre-packaged foods, and installing signage throughout the venue to encourage healthy practices.
IMS says the plan has been approved by the Marion County Department of Public Health, though it will be subject to continued review.
“The IMS plan has been developed in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health, and reflects the current best practices and mitigating steps outdoor venues should have in place to host public events,” Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said in a news release. “It meets or exceeds all local guidelines and is approved subject to continued review. I appreciate the serious and collaborative approach IMS has displayed throughout this process.”
IMS President Doug Boles says there will be a “level of progressive enforcement” when it comes to the mask requirement during 500 events, including practice and qualifying days. He says it will start with fans receiving a face mask upon entering the venue.
“We’ll have a guest services team that will be moving throughout the grounds and reminding people to wear those masks. We’re hoping that our fans will remind people as well. And then if it’s appropriate, we will be prepared to ask people to leave. I hope we don’t have to do that, but we definitely are prepared to do that if people aren’t willing to comply with what we believe is a reasonable requirement.”
You can view the full plan by clicking here.
In addition to the Speedway’s plan, the 500 Festival says it will cancel its remaining in-person events for 2020. The nonprofit, which had previously postponed many of its events to August, says the decision to cancel was made after an extensive evaluation and out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We worked closely with local and state officials as well as local health experts, our partners at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and corporate partners to ensure that every potential option was evaluated. As an organization that produces large community events held in public spaces, we faced a number of unique challenges compared to an event hosted in a standalone venue,” said Bob Bryant, chief executive officer of the 500 Festival. “This decision was not made lightly. With a wide range of programs and events that engage various audiences, the 500 Festival reached this conclusion with the utmost respect for the history and family traditions that will be impacted. We’re disappointed but we know that this is in the best interest of public health as well as the vitality of the 500 Festival for generations to come.”
The events that are being canceled include:
- 500 Festival Kickoff to May, presented by STAR Bank
- Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day and Rookie Run
- 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc.
- 500 Festival Volunteer Appreciation Day, presented by Citizens Energy Group
- 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce
- IPL 500 Festival Parade
- 500 Festival mini-mini
The 500 Festival says this is the first time that its traditional schedule of events will not take place leading up to the Indy 500. The nonprofit says it has faced a “substantial financial hardship” from canceling the events, but it is committed to providing creative new opportunities to celebrate the race.
Miles says there is a need to make sure the race happens.
Dr. Edward Racht, chief medical officer for Global Medical Reponse, outlines some of the major components of the plan.
Boles explains how the enforcement of the mask requirement will work.