With the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule announcement last week, riders, teams members, media, and fans could now start to prepare for the new season. But the announcement also brought on questions—specifically the TBA locations and dates for rounds 13 through 16, the date of the finale in Salt Lake City, and if fans would be permitted.
Last Tuesday, Feld Entertainment held a conference call with the media. Sean Brennen, Public Relations Manager – Motorsports, Feld Entertainment, Inc., hosted the conference call as Dave Prater, Senior Director of Operations, Two-Wheel, Feld Entertainment, Inc., answered questions and provided more insight on the new schedule. Here are some of the topics that were discussed in the call.
Frequently Asked Questions on the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross
Will fans be allowed?
We will start here since this is one of the most talked about topics. Yes, Feld Entertainment is preparing for fans to be allowed to attend races at each venue. Currently, the plan is for all venues to have about 20-25 percent capacity at the moment—with hopes that each venue will be able to open up more in the months leading up to the event—which is great news. Prater said Feld is basically taking the idea of the Salt Lake City “bubble” and working to introduce fans into that plan in a safe fashion. He said bringing fans back to live events is still something the company is developing, although they did announce a Monster Energy Supercross’ Fan Wellness plan that outlines policies from both Feld's perspective and the fans' perspective. Prater also touched on several of the policies that will be in place: specially, anyone in attendance over the age of two years old will be required to wear a face mask throughout the entirety of their time on the venue’s grounds.
“We are holding ourselves to a new standard,” Prater said. “That goes from the race teams to the families that are coming to watch the event live.”
Prater continued to acknowledge how Feld Entertainment was successfully able to include fans in its first Monster Jam event since the COVID-19 outbreak. On October 24 and 25 in Arlington, Texas, over 31,000 total fans attended the two-day event. Again, the events were capped at 20 percent capacity. With the social distancing rules in place, Prater said there will be pod-seating available, meaning families or friends can purchase a pack of seats together but their seats will be socially distanced from others seated in the same section.
“They can rest assure that we are doing everything and anything to keep them safe,” Prater said families coming safely to the varies venues for 2021 supercross events. “We are going to set the standard for the industry.”
Tickets for the first 12 rounds will go on sale to the general public on December 8. Preferred customers have the ability to sign up in advance for early access to purchase tickets a week prior on December 1, by visiting SupercrossLIVE.com.
“For the past seven months, Feld Entertainment has been working and continues to work on a wellness plan in order to bring fans back to live events,” Prater said.
Prater also said the plan is to bring back the pit parties, where fans will have the opportunity to peruse through the paddock to see the riders and their bikes under the team tents from approximately noon to 6 p.m. locally.
Why these stadiums?
After the 2020 Indianapolis Supercross was canceled (the first race to get cancelled due to COVID-19), Feld got in touch with other venues to see if they could resume the championship. As we all know, after a several-month break, the championship did resume and eventually finish in Salt Lake City, Utah. But Prater said building the relationships with different venues during the pause in racing helped Feld resume those conversations for the ’21 schedule. He also said a lot of the selections for 2021 came down to the NFL schedule. If the venue were in a city where local government would allow fans to attend that local NFL team’s games, it made the process of holding a race in that building with spectators easier. Prater said that while the championship only visited one stadium (Rice-Eccles Stadium) during the final seven rounds of 2020, the relationships built with other venues during that time really helped develop the 2021 schedule.
Why are rounds 13-16 set as TBAs? How about the date of the finale?
Prater said the goal is to have these rounds locked in by mid-February, so teams, rider, staff and fans can all have several weeks’ notice prior to the events. They’re hoping that by Easter (April 4) perhaps more cities and venues will be open for fans. While Feld Entertainment still has work to do in order to figure out specific details for these rounds, Prater said they did not want to keep everyone in the dark, so it’s better to release a half schedule now as opposed to waiting to release a full schedule later. This allows more off-season preparation from all involved.
“We needed to get a schedule out there, we needed everyone in the industry to plan—including ourselves,” Prater said.
“There’s a lot that goes into it and we don’t want to just pull the trigger early and lock ourselves into something that doesn’t really make sense,” he continued on the unknown dates later in the schedule.
At the time of the schedule release, Prater said rounds 13-16 could either return to stadiums that hosts one of the earlier rounds or they could return to a venue that has hosted supercross events in the past, possibly located in California (more on that topic later). Although he did not completely rule it out, Prater said it would be difficult for the championship to head to a brand-new venue for supercross. He said even in a normal year, it’s difficult to go to a new venue, and if it came to it, they could look at running rounds 13-16 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as the already announced final round that has a date yet to be announced. That’s not what they hope to do, however.
As far as the date of the TBA finale goes, Prater said there is a drop-dead date to finish the season by May 8, because of the yet-to-be-announced 2021 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship expected to begin near the end of May. Feld Entertainment and MX Sports Pro Racing (promotors of Pro Motocross and sister company of Racer X) worked closely together to start and finish both championships in 2020 without any overlapping issues. That should be the plan again for 2021, so supercross hopes to be finished by its traditional end date in early May.
What about California?
Many might be shocked that the championship will not begin in—or at the moment visit at any point—California. Prater said that is because of the guidelines the local government in California has set in place with COVID-19. “Well how did the last round of the Pro Motocross take place in California?” you’re probably thinking. That’s because it was raced on Indian reserve ground, which the local government said they will not tamper with.
Angel Stadium, Petco Park, RingCentral Coliseum (formerly Oakland Coliseum) are stadiums that typically host supercross races but depending on the MLB and NFL schedule, might be out of the question completely, either because of government regulations still in place in Spring 2021 or the home team needing the stadium. Newly opened SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, is a venue other fans might think of but again, this venue would be a new relationship with Feld, so although it’s not impossible, it’s an unlikely stop.
“I wish I could say. I don’t have my crystal ball,” Prater said on a California round of 2021 supercross. “Again, I’m optimistic, but who knows, California could slide into that April date if it opens up, but that remains to be seen.”
When will the TV schedule be announced? Are these day races to fit a TV window?
Prater said the TV schedule will more than likely be announced after the start of the new year. While there is no change in broadcast company as supercross will be broadcasted through NBC, Prater said the TV schedule will depend on the time of day Feld, the AMA, and NBC agree upon. He said on the preliminary schedule, two of the weekday races are day races at the moment, starting slightly earlier than the usual supercross. That could change based on the final TV schedule.
What about Supercross Futures, Triple Crown events, and East/West Showdowns?
Unfortunately, in order to pull off the full championship as safely and efficiently possible, Feld announced that no Supercross Futures events will take place in 2021. However, since the SX Futures program is how riders earn their professional points in order to compete in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, Prater said Feld is working with the AMA and MX Sports on finding specific major amateur races that will count towards a rider’s SX points license. He noted that the 2021 AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at the Loretta Lynn’s Ranch will be included as one of those SX-points paying races. He said the SX Futures program will definitely make a return in 2022.
“There will be ample amount of opportunities for riders to get their supercross licenses in ’21 for ’22,” Prater confirmed.
Although not on the announced schedule, Prater said Feld expects to incorporate several Triple Crown events into the schedule. The sooner that dates and locations for rounds 13-16 are locked in, the sooner Feld will be able to incorporate these unique events into the schedule.
Similar to the Triple Crown events, Feld is planning on having several East/West Showdowns in the 2021 schedule but need to lock in dates and venues for rounds 13-16 in order to begin to plan these specific rounds.
Will the tracks change?
Prater said the Dirt Wurx crew will be changing the layout for the back-to-back rounds at the same venue. He said Feld learned a lot from the Salt Lake City run last year, and the track crew has the ability to make “aggressive” changes to the events in the same stadium this year.
“Fans can rest assured that if they come to Saturday’s race and then they come back to Tuesday’s, it’s going to be a completely different track, even more so than what you saw in Salt Lake City,” Prater said. “So, I’m excited about that.”
“It’s definitely going to feel like a normal supercross season—as normal as it can,” said Prater. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to make this happen.”
To listen to the archive of the full media session, you can listen below on the latest episode of Jason Weigandt’s Racer X Exhaust Podcast.