SBD/Issue 31/Events & Attractions

Baltimore IndyCar Race Near Seven-Figure Title Sponsor Deal

Baltimore Race Negotiating Heavily With
Three Companies For Sponsorships

Baltimore Racing Development President Jay Davidson said that he "expects to announce a title sponsor" for next year's IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix "in the next few weeks who will pay 'in the low seven figures,'" according to Julie Scharper of the Baltimore SUN. The race is only 10 months away, but organizers "have yet to land a title sponsor to help shoulder the cost of promotion." A set of light rail tracks is "posing an apparently unprecedented challenge for engineers," and a "lukewarm climate for Indy-style racing only adds to the uncertainty." Millions more also "must be invested in miles of barriers and fences, grandstands and skyboxes, sanctioning fees and advertising campaigns in several markets," which is "where corporate sponsors -- and their deep pockets -- play a key role." Scharper noted it is "unclear how potential sponsors will respond to a race in Baltimore." Speed.com's Robin Miller said, "Ten months out and they don't have a title sponsor? They've got to be nervous." But Davidson is "confident his team can hook the right sponsors."  He said BRD is "negotiating hard with three different companies, and one of those companies will wind up being our title sponsor." Davidson added that "legal agreements preclude him from naming the companies, but two are based in Maryland and one is from the surrounding region." BRD also is "trying to line up a separate sponsor for the American Le Mans Series race planned for the day before the Indy race." Davidson said that "once the main sponsors have been nailed down ... the group intends to sell as many as 20 smaller sponsorships for price tags ranging from" $25,000-250,000. He added that he "expects to announce sponsorship deals this week with the five hotels near the course: the Marriott, Harbor Court, Sheraton, InterContinental and Hilton."  Davidson: "We're trying to give sponsors signage that is very clear and that will show up well on television, so that it won't be cluttered like some races." Davidson "hopes to sell $7 million in tickets, compared to about" $3.5-4M in sponsorships. Meanwhile, track designer Martyn Thake said that planners are "hashing out the final layout for seating this week," and that "about 45,000 grand seats will ring the 2-mile course, in addition to about 70 skyboxes, ground-level boxes and tents" (Baltimore SUN, 10/24).

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