Now that the euphoria has died down following the successful resolution to secure the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for the next 17 years, reality is beginning to kick in – with the revelation that fans are set to be hit hard in the pocket in 2010 and beyond with regard to ticket prices.
The deal finally struck between Silverstone owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) and Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone – never the easiest of bedfellows – means the Northants circuit will pay a flat yearly fee of £12 million for the honour of welcoming the world's fastest and most glamorous sport and hosting the blue riband
event on the UK motorsport calendar, with that fee set to rise by annual increments of five per cent.
It has been pointed out that were the usual ten per annual cent increase to have been stipulated, it would have cost Silverstone £486.5 million to stage the grand prix for the next ten years – £176.5 million more than it will pay under the new, more favourable arrangement. What's more, the £12 million fee is amongst the lowest in the sport, alongside Monaco and Monza.
However, with the British Grand Prix being the only race on the schedule not to receive any government support, all of the outgoings have to be balanced by ticket sales – with Ecclestone laying claim to all revenue from trackside advertising and corporate hospitality.
That is being blamed for the rise in ticket prices, with industry monitor Formula Money
predicting that the lowest-priced tickets will climb from £125 in 2009 to just over £150 in five years' time – an escalation of some 22.5 per cent. By 2020, that increase will have reached 50 per cent, and by the end of the contract in 2026 the figure will be £249, or a 100 per cent hike – with the average price expected to be in the region of £425, and the most expensive seats going on sale at £530.
How that will affect spectator numbers remains to be seen; this year, the race day crowd of 120,000 fans made the event the most popular of the season. A Silverstone spokesperson, however, has rubbished the purported price rises.
“The figures reported bear no resemblance to the facts, or Silverstone's plans for the future,” he told Crash.net
. “They are speculative and unhelpful. Any increase in ticket prices would be in-line with the annual rate of inflation, or rises in VAT. Silverstone is looking at alternative ways to increase revenue from the British Grand Prix to help cover any increase in costs or fees.”