SBD/Issue 181/Events & Attractions

Baltimore Grand Prix Set To Run In '11, Kicking Off Five-Year Deal

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).

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