Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leagues Make Pitch to Hispanics

Thousands of Hispanic fans wearing bright yellow T-shirts and waving Colombian flags crowded Homestead Miami Speedway Nov. 22 to root for Juan Pablo Montoya in Nascar's final race of the season.

The Colombian driver finished 38th after a wreck, but helped pull in the largest proportion of first-time fans ever recorded at the racetrack: 55% compared with the usual 20%, according to Curtis Gray, president of the speedway, which keeps a database of attendees.

Major U.S. sports, from car racing to football, are stepping up their efforts to draw Hispanic fans, in the belief that the rapidly growing group will drive sports businesses -- and fill enormous new stadiums -- in the years to come.

Hispanics make up 15% of the U.S. population and by 2050 are expected to make up almost 30%, at 128 million people, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Their purchasing power, which doubled over the past decade, will expand a further 36% by 2014 to $1.3 trillion, or 10% of the country's total, predicts the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

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