In two days, South Florida has added two more major events to its already packed sports calendar. Is it possible for the region to become even bigger on the sports map?
On Wednesday, the Indy Racing League unveiled its 2009 IndyCar Series schedule and rather than kicking off the season, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the finale of the 18-race schedule on Oct. 11, 2009.
It’s not NASCAR, but as you know, the speedway already hosts the final races in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup series on the third weekend of November.
That means two championship events in five weeks. Speedway President Curtis Gray couldn’t be happier.
“We brand our speedway as your championship track,” he said. “Now it really is America’s ultimate championship motoropspots track. It is the first time NASCAR and Indy Car have ended their series at the same track.”
Look for the track to package tickets for the two events together and to pitch sponsors on investing in both. Despite its international flavor and increasing star power that includes Danica Patrick and two-time Indy 500 champion and Dancing with the Stars winner Helio Castroneves, the Indy race at Homestead has never been as popular at the track as the NASCAR event.
Will you be interested in attending now that it will be the championship event? Do you think crowds will grow as a result?
And on Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that Dolphin Stadium and the Marlins will host six second-round games in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, March 14-19. The games will pit the four winners and second-place finishers from the opening rounds being played in Toronto, which will host Canada, Italy, United States and Venezuela, and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is hosting the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico.
MLB President Bob DuPuy said baseball officials have always believed South Florida is a “good baseball market.” DuPuy said the Miami Gardens venue was chosen for a number of reasons. MLB wanted to ensure there were second round games held on both the east and west coasts for television and liked the region’s Latin influence since several of the teams are from Latin countries.
They liked that Dolphin Stadium is a veteran of hosting large events, including two World Series and four Super Bowls. Even more telling might be that the decision was made as the Marlins were completing their ballpark financing plan with Miami and Miami-Dade County.
“When we made the decision we had a stadium deal. It was in part a show of good faith we would consider Miami for significant jewel events, given the imminent construction of a ballpark and the agreement had been reached,” DuPuy said. “Since the decision has been made, there are developments that are troublesome, but we are announcing Miami is hosting the second round and that only enhances the public purpose of a baseball stadium. Without a Major League Baseball stadium, there would be no World Baseball Classic.”
Are you interested in the WBC? Will you attend?