Nov 6, 2012

Horse and hat parade easily tramples the F1 crowd

The money behind the Australian Grand Prix must stare in envy at the endless parade of horses, hats and money that flock to the Birdcage during Melbourne's racing season.

Adam Schwab — Business director and commentator

Adam Schwab

Business director and commentator

It’s a tale of two cities … in one city. The Victorian Racing Club’s spring carnival at Flemington continues to draw public support and garnering tens of millions of sponsorship dollars, while its cross-city rival event, the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, attracts meagre crowds, flailing sponsorship and continues to cost Victorian taxpayers upwards of $56 million each year.

While both events are held in sports-mad Melbourne, the grand prix resorts to alleged crowd tampering (and unlike virtually every other sporting event globally) refuses to officially count attendance. In 2011, the grand prix reported ticket sales of only 60,000 — compared with a claimed attendance over the four day event of 300,000. Compare that to the VRC, which in 2007 was forced to introduce a ticket cap (at 120,000) to prevent over-crowding. Derby Day on Saturday drew more than 98,000 spectators — up 6% on 2011.

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