The schedule for the 2015 Amsoil Arenacross Championship was released a couple days ago. We’ll take a minute go through it to analyze the schedule as far as travel, money, length, etc.
January 10-11 US Bank Arena Cincinnati, OH
January 16-18 Van Andel Arena Grand Rapids, MI
January 23-25 World Arena Colorado Springs, CO
Jan 31-Feb 1 Bridgestone Arena Nashville, TN
February 6-8 Mohegan Sun Arena Wilkes-Barre, PA
February 21-22 Tampa Bay Times Forum Tampa, FL
Feb 28-March 1 Mid-America Center Council Bluffs, IA
March 13-15 Landers Center Southaven, MS
March 21-22 Smoothie King Center New Orleans, LA
March 28-29 Frank Erwin Center Austin, TX
April 11-12 Spokane Arena Spokane, WA
April 18-19 Tacoma Dome Tacoma, WA
April 25-26 Save Mart Center Fresno, CA
May 1-3 South Point Arena Las Vegas, NV
The first thing I noticed was the obvious that the series expanded to 14 weekends of racing from 10 in 2014. That may be good for fans in the new areas that were added this year, but the grind on the riders just got tougher since they race for two nights at some of the rounds.
The first stop of the tour is at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati. GOOD! Arenacross needs a round in Ohio. It has always been a breeding ground for Arenacross racers, thanks mostly in part to Drew Wolfe of Action Sports Promotions (yes anyone who knows me this might sound a little biased. It’s the truth, sue me). Names like Gibson, Demuth, Ames, Willard, Bowers, Skaggs, all Ohio born, grew up racing the Action Sports Indoor series when the series was still going. Not only that but the Ohio fans are like nothing else, always supporting the Buckeye faithful.
Skip ahead to the week in between rounds 2 and 3, going from Grand Rapids to Colorado Springs. The fortunate thing is that since most of the riders are driving to the races, Colorado hosts two nights of racing. They better because the drive from Grand Rapids to CO Springs is 1200 miles. Move forward to the next event at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and you have another 1000 miles of driving, for only one night of racing. That’s a lot of time on the road for these riders going back and forth across the country.
Thankfully after round 5 in Wilkes-Barre, PA the riders get a week off. Maybe we’ll see some of them at the opening round of the 2015 East Coast 250 series in Dallas that weekend. After the week off it’s down to Tampa, Florida. This is puzzling to me because not only have we rarely, if ever seen an Amsoil Arenacross in Florida, but you’d think there would be availability to hold a race closer to Daytona during Bike Week. Never mind the fact that it’s not really that cold in Florida in February. Let’s move the race out of the hockey rink and put it near the boardwalk on Tampa Bay. Now THAT’S an idea!
OK Tampa to Council Bluffs, IA is over 1400 miles. Starting to get a little bit irritated with all of this driving. The purse isn’t that much guys!
Once we leave Iowa, the riders start to make the west coast swing of the tour, starting in New Orleans. I’ve been to New Orleans, my guess is that one or two of the riders might have their stuff stolen before the weekend is over. Hopefully that isn’t the case.
Austin, TX hosts round 10 of the series, and you all know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” So hopefully there will be some great racing in the Lone Star State.
Luckily everyone gets a weekend off for Easter to rest up and recharge for the final push of the series. Two rounds in Washington, (Spokane, Tacoma) might give the fans of the Pacific Northwest something to do since the Supercross Series isn’t going to Seattle this year (Seriously, there isn’t a hockey team in Seattle? What about a barn or a huge Starbucks or something?) The series then heads to Fresno for the penultimate round. Does anyone even like Fresno?
For the first time the series concludes at South Point Arena in Las Vegas. The date says May 1-3 so I’m wondering if they are just racing Friday night since the Supercross at Sam Boyd Stadium is Saturday night.
General Thoughts: I don’t understand why the series has grown, eliminating the possibility for riders to go race Supercross. I thought that was the whole point! The rumor going around is that Bowers will be riding for Monster P/C in 2015 for Supercross, but the P.R. hasn’t come out yet. If he stays in AX, we won’t see him at SX next year.
With the adoption of Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross in 2014, we got a glimpse of the future of Supercross. Kids like Plessinger, Nichols, Tucker and Hayes were all in the mix at various rounds. We know that Plessinger is racing Nationals after Loretta Lynn’s next weekend and then moving to SX for 2015. I’m assuming the same for Colt Nichols, who rode for Monster Energy Babbitts in 2014. Hayes it looks like may link back up with TUF Honda, unless something lines up for him in Supercross.
I’m interested to see how many new kids will race the series, or just for the three points required to get the 250 SX license. The series always starts strong with a lot of riders trying to make the fast 30 to get into the night show. Cincinnati and Grand Rapids should have strong rider attendance as most of the riders are in that area. However, judging by the trend that usually follows Arenacross, I’m going to bet that around the Tampa/Council Bluffs mark of the tour, you’ll start to see less and less riders at the races. Gas is just too expensive and the purse isn’t enough to help most of the riders get to the next race. I know in years past the series has had to get creative with sponsorship for the series, mainly title sponsorships, so the money ins’t quite there on that end, but I can’t think if an AX event lost money during the year, that Mr. Feld would even notice. And surely you’ve all seen how much he is worth by now. He could pull $50K out of his pocket each week to throw into the purse, and never know it was gone. But I digress.
Whatever happens with riders, teams, etc. I’m sure it will be another exciting year of Amsoil Arenacross.