30 January 2014 – Racing Post
There were contrasting fortunes for Britain’s two major racecourse groups in 2013, with Arena Racing Company’s total and average crowd figures rising but Jockey Club Racecourses’ falling.
While average attendances across Britain fell, those for ARC’s 15 courses – which include Doncaster and Chepstow along with the all-weather tracks at Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton – rose 5.2 % collectively to an average of 2,141, while total attendance rose 6.3 % to 1,162,601.
ARC’s director of marketing Mel Armstrong said: “We worked hard in 2013 introducing a number of new customer initiatives to try to boost attendances.”
Chepstow’s average crowd increased by 23.5 % – there were two runnings of the Welsh Grand National after the 2012 race was rescheduled – while Doncaster’s average was up 10%.
Armstrong added: “Customer initiatives such as the ARC annual member scheme, the Young Hooves Kids Club, live music and a more targeted communications strategy with customers all played their part.
“This will be a tough year with the World Cup in Brazil competing for the sporting and leisure pound, but we’re still keen to do more to attract racegoers to our courses by putting the right customer offering on at the right time. As our knowledge of our customers increases, we plan to bring in fresh initiatives during 2014.”
At JCR’s 14 tracks total attendance was down 2.1 % to 1,735,248 and average attendance dropped 8.9 % to 4,807.
Group managing director Paul Fisher claimed the figures held up well given prolonged periods of cold and wet weather.
He said: “Last year saw our large festivals remain popular and we enjoyed attendance increases at several of our smaller courses after fewer abandonments than in 2012.
“I’m very happy with our performance because in the outdoor events business you’re always in the hands of the weather. Wet and cold conditions impacted advanced sales and walk-ups for some key periods, we lost our New Year’s Day fixture at Cheltenham, which attracted a crowd of 32,000 people the previous year, and we staged two fewer racingplus-music nights that normally attract sizeable crowds.”