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Indy 500 sells out; local blackout lifted

By The Sports Xchange
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Indy 500 sells out; local blackout lifted
Josef Newgarden displays the American flag during the traditional front row photo session for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 23, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Newgarden will start second on the starting grid. Photo by Ed Locke/UPI | License Photo

The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 was declared a sellout on Wednesday and a television blackout lifted in the state of Indiana for the first time since 1950.

Earlier this month, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that all reserved seats were sold. General admission tickets also reached a maximum, believed to be 75,000, to push total attendance for Sunday's IndyCar race on the historic 2.5-mile oval to approximately 350,000.

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That's about 70,000 to 100,000 more spectators than 2015. The facility is estimated to have about 225,000 permanent seats.

"All suites, reserve seats and infield general admission tickets for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 are sold out," Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said. "There's no event in the world like the Indianapolis 500."

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The statewide TV blackout had been in place for years. Only in 1949 and 1950 was the race televised live in the state. ABC began broadcasting at Indy in 1965.

"There's no event in the world like the Indy 500, and this sellout is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the thrilling racing of the Verizon IndyCar Series and the bright future for both," said Mark Miles, CEO of track owner Hulman & Company. "This unexpected development surprised us."

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It is not known when the race last sold out becuase the privately owned track does not release attendance totals, but it has been more than two decades, since the split in Indy-car racing in 1996 into two series that fractured the sport.

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"It's fair to say a lot of people thought we might sell out the reserved seats," Miles said. "But I don't think people anticipated getting to the place where we would have to say we really should not sell any more infield general admission tickets.

"We need to make sure those people have a great experience and make sure they want to come back."

James Hinchcliffe is in the pole for the 500-mile race.

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