Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Feld Doesn’t Actually Pilot a Death Star 23

With the release of the new Monster Energy Supercross schedule, Cooksey had some questions, so he went to the source for answers.

Cooksey, Straight To The Point: Feld Doesn’t Actually Pilot a Death Star

Last week the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross schedule was released and it was met with mixed reviews and heavy criticism. Most complaints had to do with the season finale. Since 1993, Las Vegas has been the destination spot for the season finale, minus the one-year hiatus in 1996 because of the power outage in '95. Other complaints have to do with the cities that did or didn’t get a race in 2020, along with the unconventional zig-zagging across country. If you look at the schedule from a geographic standpoint it will have you scratching your head, but there is so much more to planning a season! 

I got in touch with Feld Motorsports and spoke to Dave Prater, the Sr. Director of Operations; and Sean Brennen, Public Relations Manager. I wanted to clarify the whys and hows of the chosen locations, venues and dates selected for the 2020 Supercross rounds. Both Prater and Brennen are steadfast about their desire to grow the sport of Supercross and the landscape changes required to accomplish it. My first question was in regard to round two in St. Louis, as it’s quite a drive from Anaheim which hosts both the first and third rounds. 

Believe it or not, they aren’t thrilled about having to drive across the country, either, but football stadiums in January present some unique challenges. For example, had the Arizona Cardinals made the playoffs last year and needed their stadium on the same date as round two in 2019, the Supercross event would have been moved to Easter weekend, which would create a huge logistical gamble for Feld. Being a Cardinals fan, I would book it every year. There is not much risk of them hosting a playoff game, they suck! Unfortunately, the Cardinal’s stadium will not risk the PR backlash from Cardinal fans by booking out their stadium when they could be playing a home playoff game. It would definitely be disheartening to Cardinal season ticket holders when the stadium is betting the Cardinals won’t be hosting a playoff game. 

Other factors to consider when renting a stadium are dirt storage, fan interest, and potential ticket sales, which all add more complication to the scheduling puzzle. Feld relies heavily on market research when determining where to go each year. They do their best to determine what geographical locations have the largest potential fanbases. Let’s not forget Feld is heavily financially committed to the growth of Supercross, if the sport grows they grow, too. They have some extremely smart people with backgrounds in all types of live event promotions who analyze the best possible strategies to sell tickets and garner attention.

When dealing with stadiums there are many factors to consider. Feld has to convince stadiums that renting the stadium for a minimum for seven days is a good idea. Imagine trying to convince the executives of the new Raider stadium (who they are in talks with) that you want to rent their new $1.8 billion stadium for seven to ten days for a dirt bike race. Oh, and the 500 truckloads of dirt coming into your brand-new stadium needs to be stored on or near the stadium premises. According to Prater, “At 90% of our venues we have an agreement to store dirt.” According to Sean Brennen, “Feld Entertainment is the largest dirt owner in the world.” Monster Jam travels throughout the world and Feld utilizes Monster Jam to build relationships with stadiums. If Supercross was a standalone event, it might not be possible to book some of the stadiums we currently attend.

Feld is extremely excited about their relationship with the Utah Sports Commission who is committed to Supercross. The Sports Commission in Salt Lake City has committed $20,000,000 of media value to promote the 2020 Supercross finals. Last week my Utah friends, some who don’t even pay attention to Supercross, told me they saw it on the news. The event is being billed as the largest sports event to hit the state since the 2002 Winter Olympics. A lot of people that love hitting the Las Vegas party scene are upset, but there’s still a race in Vegas, it’s just a week earlier. With Utah is rolling out the red carpet for Supercross, I think we owe it to Utah to give them a chance. A state showing this much love for the sport deserves a fair shot as opposed to Vegas where often the Supercross finals are the second or third largest event of the weekend. 

After chatting with Dave and Sean for about 40 minutes I just couldn’t help myself and asked them if we actually need FIM in Supercross? Without hesitation, Dave replied, “We do have the FIM especially if we are going to be the world championship, which obviously we are. We have to have the FIM in order to compete outside the U.S.” They don’t have any immediate plans for worldwide expansion to announce, but it is on the agenda moving forward. On another note, Dave thinks the new regime at the FIM will be much more proactive and we will see a much more streamlined process concerning WADA and drug testing. 

While some might view Feld like they are piloting the Death Star and crushing anyone in their way, it’s not true. They are in business to promote Supercross races and strategically grow the sport.  Growth takes change and change can be uncomfortable.  We may not always like it, but rest assured, there’s a method to the madness.

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.

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