Some very interesting points on here.
I appreciate (as the guy said earlier) that age isn't relevant when it comes to speedway and an opinion, but having followed the sport for 45 years then I do believe that I can give a decent opinion of the merits of Cardiff, even though it does have it's down points.
Speedway in the UK is pretty much on its knees. Many of us can remember the halcyon days of the 70's and 80's in the UK... when the British League was the global 'jewel in the crown' of speedway... the place to ride to be competitive... and a time which we probably all took for granted and never expected things to change.
Back then... everyone in speedway pretty much EXPECTED that it would be a 'given' that we had a great venue here to house the 'World Final.' We took that as a given right. And there was also an expectancy that the British speedway public will fill the place easily. We had the old Empire Stadium at Wembley. We then had Odsal... then... we didn't.
The 'masses' went to watch speedway weekly. My father used to go to watch Odsal in the late 1940's... he had some old programmes from meetings... in the 'pre tv' era. Weekly there was 30,000 people watching meetings back then! The sport was huge.
Fast forward to the state of affairs with our beloved sport today... and it really IS on its knees. I am struggling to work out how clubs actually stay afloat. And how small amount of clubs there is. It is bare bones speedway. I have followed Halifax, Bradford.... both now closed. If you have track to support now... it's isn't a 'right' or a 'given,' then it is TRULY a gift from the Gods!
Sheffield is where is go to watch now... almost 40 miles each way from my house! Bradford used to be 8 miles away... and my all time beloved club, Halifax... 16 miles! Now... 35 plus!!!
THIS is how bad things are.
Now if you had shown me today's state of affairs in the 80's, with a crystal ball. Or fetched me forward in a time machine... and showed me the absolute state of affairs in the domestic leagues.... THEN... this weekend... had taken me to Cardiff, and showed me that we actually have a stadium in the UK.. where FORTY thousand people will travel to, to watch not a 'one off final,' but Grand Prix meeting (not as special IMHO), at a venue with a roof on it so that you KNOW it's not gonna be rained off... then I wouldn't actually believe that the whole Cardiff experience was a "thing." I would marvel about it! I wouldn't actually be able to get my head around that this STILL existed. Cardiff still being with us... in a country where speedway is becoming almost defunct... is pretty much the biggest oasis imaginable... and in the world's largest desert.
I know that it has it's faults. Processional racing (not hardly a rarity in speedway... if we are being honest)... but yeah... yesterday's meeting was pretty much a gate fest. Hotel prices aren't cheap in the city (that is Capitalism rearing it's head.... why sell a room for £50 when you can sell it for 5 x that amount). Geography also for some isn't so great.... agreed. But for sure... if you look at the actual state of speedway right now here.. it is on it's knees.
So the speedway GP at Cardiff... whatever it's faults... IS a miracle and a Godsend. We need to get our nostalgic heads out of our boots and appreciate it is as a thing / concept.
I agree that walk up ticket prices on the day of £50 is a disgrace. Why price late comers out when they could sell them at £20 and recoup money and get more people in the stadium? False and stupid econony!
But in general... you can make the Cardiff experience reasonably inexpensive if you are up for it, with a little effort.
I treated my sister to her tickets this year. 2 tickets were say £42 plus booking fees. Which were reasonable. A pound here or there. It can cost a couple of hundred quid to see some bands at an Arena these days.
So £42 for tickets, I booked parking via a website at an Ibis only 15 mins walk from the stadium. That was only £8. So £50. Programme.... £10. We share it. £60. So £60 for the basics for two adults for the actual meeting / parking / programme.
The rest are expenses. We drive from Leeds. My motor guzzles a little... so used £76 worth of diesel for the round trip of 500 miles. Yes... that is a long drive to do on the day... but the buzz of having a day out pretty much carries me along. We set off early and stop off on the way (using the Starbucks near Ross on Wye.. which was drive through only this year).
So fuel (rather than hotel), tickets, parking, for two people: £136 or £68 each. How much would it cost to go to a gig or see a football match? All of this to watch a largely attended event of a sport we love in the middle of a struggling era in our sport.
I personally think that we are LUCKY to have Cardiff. VERY lucky. Yeah... the racing may have been shocking this year. And I appreciate that people would rather see a track like the NSS at Belle Vue house such an event. I get it... I truly do. But it just isn't happening. Even with bolt on stands... once we remove the whole Cardiff experience... we could lose it forever.
And tragically... life isn't about mixing and matching. We can't have a track like the NSS in a place like Cardiff. It's indoor on a pitch. And that's not criticism to those sentiments above.. I long for better racing.. desperately! I truly do. But life is all about 'what if's,' and sadly, that is all they are.
Even if we could make the NSS at 20k seater stadium... how would that help? People go to Cardiff annually... families. We are trying to promote the sport. Kids go there. Imagine the disappointment for kids if we take a 40k event and slash it by two into a 20 / 15k event (my figures are just examples and not real). People would be let down and miss out hugely. And again... all of this planning for a meeting at a city which is hardly famed for it's sunshine? Speedway is pretty much fortunate to have the NSS. But it was never gonna be a big stadium. Tracks get no support. So yeah... it is a great racing track... but really... just the fact that the NSS even exists is pretty much a miracle! We are NOW a minority sport. Sadly. Rose tinted spectacles off time.
It would be absolute domestic speedway suicide to dump off Cardiff and move it to absolutely ANYwhere. It really would.
I would love the thought of a 'second GP' here some place... a "European GP." Or whatever, at another venue. I would be up for that concept. 100 percent.
But the British GP at Cardiff really is something that we are ridiculously LUCKY to have. The sport here is critical / not stable.. and is on 'life support' right now.
And yeah... bongo cams and presenters may be a bit tacky / trash (I am not having a dig at any poster here above... I totally agree :D) but for all of the little things that annoy... we rock up there once a year knowing that our money isn't wasted on a rain off, and knowing that we will probably be served up 'follow my leader processional racing' : pretty much how speedway is in general, if we are to be honest with ourselves.... and if we remove the romantic ideal that we often have of it.
It has it's massive faults... but really, it's pretty much a great thing.