SBD/Issue 221/Events & Attractions

Ecclestone Says Agreement Reached For F1 To Return To Montreal

Ecclestone Says He Never Wanted F1
To Leave Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone yesterday told a Swiss motorsports publication that the Canadian Grand Prix "will return to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve next year," and he later "repeated his assertion to the CBC, saying negotiations had yielded an agreement in principle for a seven-year deal," according to a front-page piece by Walter Buchignani of the Montreal GAZETTE. Ecclestone: "We have an in-principle agreement for how we're going to make the race happen." Montreal officials said that talks are "proceeding in promising fashion," but "that's pretty much all they would say." Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay spokesperson Darren Becker said that the city is "keen to host the race again after it was left off the 2009 schedule because of a disagreement over hosting fees -- 'but not at any price.'" Becker said that the "last offer presented by representatives of ... municipal, provincial and federal governments still stands -- a five-year term worth" C$110M. Buchignani writes Ecclestone's comments "raised more questions than answers and served only to reveal his lack of respect for those with whom he negotiates," but "at least it's clear now that Ecclestone ... wants the deal to happen, which puts local negotiators in the driver's seat as they prepare to sign on the dotted line" (Montreal GAZETTE, 8/5).  A source said that Canadian officials "were in London two weeks ago to offer a new deal to Ecclestone," and that the proposal was about C$75M over five years, "much less than the offer rejected by Ecclestone last November." The GLOBE & MAIL's Pappone & Perreaux report it is "thought the deal included a promise to pay Ecclestone the money he was owed under the previous arrangement" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/5). Tremblay said in a statement, "A contract has been sent but nothing has been signed yet" (THE DAILY). In Toronto, Andrew Chung notes Ecclestone in the magazine interview said that he "never wanted to leave Montreal." He also "ruled out a return to Indianapolis, which was dropped in 2007," and said that he "would like to add races in South Korea and India" (TORONTO STAR, 8/5).

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