Indianapolis 500 To Allow 40 Percent Capacity, Highest-Attended U.S. Sporting Event In A Year

Apr 21, 2021

The 2020 Indianapolis 500 ran without fans in the stands in late August.
Credit Samantha Horton/IPB News

The Indianapolis 500 will bring fans back this May after having none at last year’s race, at 40 percent capacity.

The race was already the most attended single-day sporting event. Even with the reduced number of fans – roughly 135,000 – it will be the largest in-person sporting event since the start of the pandemic.

Those who attend the race will have to follow health and safety measures: 

  • Face coverings will be required and enforced throughout the venue.
  • Temperature checks will be administered upon public gate entry.
  • There will be spacing between groups in the grandstands. In addition, spacing will be enforced throughout the venue.
  • Spectator viewing mounds will be closed to the general public throughout May, with no Race Day general admission tickets sold.
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitation processes will be in place, with hand sanitizer and washing stations readily available.

In a news release, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said they are working with the city and state.

"The city and state have worked with us to identify the appropriate health and safety precautions so that we can successfully host a limited but very enthusiastic crowd," Boles said in the statement.

Mark Miles is president of Penske Entertainment. Following March Madness, he said the Indy 500 is the next step needed to help the city's hospitality industry recover.

"You know, we have an economy in central Indiana and particularly Indianapolis, that relies in no small part on our hospitality industry. And a big part of hospitality is sports driven," Miles said. 

More than 170,000 tickets have already been sold. Officials are offering ticket holders the option to defer until next year. 

The state has been using IMS as a mass vaccination site. Officials are adding vaccination dates in May to continue to encourage Hoosiers to get vaccinated, ahead of the race.

"We forecast before our extra efforts throughout May, that something approximating 60 percent of the fans in the stands are likely to be vaccinated. And I hope that we can push that up more," he said.

Miles said IMS will launch a campaign to encourage Hoosiers to get vaccinated. The track will also continue to serve as a site for people to get vaccinated – with additional dates from May 1-27.

This story has been updated.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.