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DOES IMS HAVE A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: F-1 TO INDY IN 2000
Published December 3, 1998
IMS President Tony George said the Speedway has "entered into a multiyear deal" to bring Formula One racing back to the U.S. after a nine-year absence, according to Robin Miller of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS. While an exact date of the 2000 event "won't be announced until" '99, George said that he "prefers late September or early October." George "declined" to comment on terms of the agreement, but said that in preparation for the event, he would "spend in the tens of millions" on track renovations, including the construction of 36 pit side garages, 12 luxury suites, a new scoring tower and a media facility. Miller writes that it "appears 200,000 of the estimated 305,000" seats will be used for the race (STAR-NEWS, 12/3). F-1 Chair Bernie Ecclestone: "I was comfortable with Tony and the family, and I know they're going to do what we want." USA TODAY's Skip Wood writes that the last F-1 race in the U.S. was "a sparsely attended event in Phoenix" in '91. Steve Madincea, Managing Dir of PRISM, F-1's largest sports marketing agency, said that F-1's return can't "be a failure." But he added, "Done properly, the race will be a huge success" (USA TODAY, 12/3). In Indianapolis, Bill Koenig calls the race "the toughest marketing challenge ever" for IMS (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 12/3). Ecclestone, who earns a "reported" $600M annually in worldwide TV rights, reportedly "has no plans to cut IMS into F-1's television money" from the race (STAR-NEWS, 12/3). BERNIE'S TRAVELS: Ecclestone is profiled in a front- page feature in the WALL STREET JOURNAL by Robert Frank, who writes that Ecclestone is "in a league of his own when it comes to control" and has become "the giant of global motor sports -- and a billionaire in the process." IMG Senior Exec VP Eric Drossart: "No one in the world owns a major sport like Bernie." Ecclestone said funds from a proposed Eurobond offering backed by F-1 revenue will create "a more professionally managed company," but experts "speculate that he may use the money to buy into another sport, such as tennis or soccer" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/3).