Last weekend’s San Jose Grand Prix drew about the same overall number of people as last year – but paid attendance was slightly less, according to final figures released Friday by race organizers.
Organizers said 81,538 paid to see the Grand Prix this year, compared with the 83,248 announced last year for the race that cuts a swath through downtown San Jose.
In a news release Friday, organizers touted the total figure of 120,000 attendees, which included fans who got in free the first day with advertised vouchers, workers, volunteers, sponsors and race teams. That number mirrored last year’s attendance.
The Grand Prix also donated tickets to more than 50 local organizations, including Teen Challenge, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, Conservation Corps, Police Activities League and many schools, churches and service organizations.
The figures can be misleading because of how race organizers count those who attended. People purchased one- or three-day tickets. Race spokesman Kevin Diamond said organizers do not have a day-by-day breakdown of the figures. He said he could not give any other details about the race’s counting procedures, directing questions to Grand Prix President Dale Jantzen. Jantzen was out of town and could not be reached late Friday.
Last year, race officials acknowledged they did not actually attempt to count the number of people who went to the race each day. Instead, they derived their figures by assuming that every three-day pass they distributed – either paid for by fans or free to sponsors, vendors and others – was used on every day.
Organizers this year cut ticket prices to boost attendance, and even though that didn’t happen, Diamond said they were still happy with the turnout.
“The bottom line is attendance was the same as last year, and we’re very pleased with that,” he said.
No figures are available to gauge the economic impact the race had from visitors spending money in downtown San Jose.
Despite sponsorship difficulties and the end of the city of San Jose’s $4 million subsidy, organizers say they plan to bring the race back next year.
This year, three-day passes cost from $60 to $129. One-day passes were $25, $35 and $45.
The Grand Prix has come to symbolize conflicts that occur when large amounts of taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize a sporting event.
While city officials characterized the $4 million subsidy for the race’s second and third years as “an investment,” critics contended that San Jose couldn’t afford it and that the money would have been better spent on balancing the city’s budget.
Contact Connie Skipitares at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5647.