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Baltimore Mayor Says Grand Prix Could Bring
Economic Impact Of $65-70M To City
Baltimore Racing Development and the IRL yesterday formally announced a five-year deal for the Baltimore Grand Prix, which will "speed through a 2.4-mile course past the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards" beginning Aug. 5-7 next year, according to Ryan Sharrow of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. BRD will pay the city $1.25M over five years in an annual race fee, and the city "will also share in a percentage of revenue generated by the Baltimore Grand Prix beginning in the second year of the event." The city "expects to recoup its dollars, and profit, from the revenue-sharing agreement and race fee." BRD also will "establish a charitable arm and be required to donate at least $100,000 each year of the race to local nonprofits." BRD "expects the race to be a 'Festival of Speed' with live concerts and other ancillary events," and the group plans on "marketing to nearby cities to help attract fans to Baltimore" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/2). City officials estimated that the street race "will draw more than 100,000 visitors to the city and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales, hotel stays and restaurant meals." Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said that the race "would support 400 jobs and produce" $65-70M in economic impact. Baltimore Transportation Dir Alfred Foxx said that the contract to build the course "would likely be awarded late this summer." In Baltimore, Julie Scharper notes BRD will spend about $14M to "prepare for the race" (Baltimore SUN, 6/3).
NEED FOR SPEED: Organizers said that a "scenic downtown was one of the reasons why the Indy Racing League decided to hold a race through Baltimore," and that the "close proximity to several metro areas, including Washington and Philadelphia, also played a role." About 50,000 temporary bleacher seats "will be available, with possibly 40,000 more seats sold inside Oriole Park" (CARROLL COUNTY TIMES, 6/3). Baltimore City Council member William Cole said the race is "really a game changer for the city." Cole: "I think this race will do as much for Baltimore as the Preakness has done in recent years." Meanwhile, Martyn Thake, who designed the course, said that the "first priority for race officials will be to repave the streets in the weeks prior to the event to make for a suitable racing surface" (Baltimore SUN, 6/3).
INDYCAR ON THE UPSWING: Driver Dario Franchitti said he has a "lot of hope for the future" of IndyCar, as for the "first time since I’ve been involved in IndyCar racing, we’re seeing everything going in the right direction." Franchitti: "I’m seeing an upward swing. I’m starting to see the ratings are getting a bit better, the crowds at the track, all the things, and the sponsorship are on an upward swing. So hopefully we’re going to see that in the TV numbers” ("PTI," ESPN, 6/2).
Texas State Officials Claim $25M Fee For
An Austin F1 Race Is Long-Term Investment
Texas taxpayers are "putting up the first $25 million in a deal aimed at luring Formula One racing to Austin," according to Eric Dexheimer of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. The money, to be deposited in the state's Major Event Trust Fund, "would pay the sanctioning fee London-based Formula One Group charges for the privilege of hosting the first of 10 annual F1 races planned for Austin beginning in 2012." The move is "contrary to earlier assertions," as state officials last week said that money from the fund "would not go to the promoter but to local governments to reimburse them for costs incurred in hosting such large sporting events." Texas Comptroller's Office Dir of Local Government Assistance & Economic Development Robert Wood said that the fund "had not been used in this way before and that officials are still figuring out the details." Dexheimer noted state officials stressed that the $25M "is an investment that will be more than returned to taxpayers in the millions of dollars that would flow back to Texas when several hundred thousand race fans flock to Austin for three days to watch the event." The state "could end up paying more than $25 million ... depending on how much extra tax money is collected." But Texas Comptroller Susan Combs stressed that "no money would be used to pay for construction of the track, which has been estimated at" $250M (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 6/2).
3M Championship Offering Free
Admission Tickets Again This Year
3M Championship officials yesterday announced that fans "again will be able to follow the world's top 50-and-over players at TPC Twin Cities for no charge" during the Aug. 6-8 Champions Tour event, according to Brian Stensaas of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The tournament last year gave away general admission tickets "in part because avid golf fans were already digging deep to pony up for another big event in town: the PGA Championship." Because of the free tickets, "no official attendance report was kept, but the galleries were packed." 3M Championship Tournament Dir Hollis Cavner: "It's a no-brainer. We had so many people coming up and thanking us (last summer). The crowds last year, even with the PGA coming to town, were great." Golfer Bernhard Langer: "It creates a better atmosphere, even better than before." Meanwhile, Stensaas reports 3M "has extended its sponsorship of the event through 2015" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/3).
COME ONE, COME ALL: Entry to the Honda Indy Toronto on Friday, July 16 "will be free admission, compliments of the Ontario Honda Dealers Association." There will be "no reserved seats anywhere on the grounds of the [Canadian National Exhibition] where the race will be held -- except for designated corporate suites." Driver Paul Tracy is "being sponsored by Honda Canada in this year's Indy and will be racing in support of Make-A-Wish Canada, a children's charity that the Honda dealers hope will benefit from the Free Friday" (THESTAR.com, 6/2).