SBD/June 8, 2012/Events and Attractions

F1 Canadian Grand Prix Ticket Sales Hit Hard By Montreal Student Protests

Fewer than 300,000 fans are expected to attend this weekend's event in Montreal
This weekend's F1 Grand Prix of Canada will be "the first in as long as anyone can remember playing with empty seats in the grandstands," according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal GAZETTE. Race promoter Octane Motorsports President & CEO Francois Dumontier said that Quebec's student protests a few months ago "drove a stake into the hear of ticket sales." For the "first time in more than a decade, fewer than 300,000 fans are expected to attend" the three-day event. Meanwhile, Dumontier is "hardly stressed by a recent report" that F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone was seeking $15M in improvements to the "aging island venue before he'll even consider extending the sport's Montreal stay" beyond '14. Dumontier said, "We're looking at a 10-year contract, to take us to 2024. ... Bernie's not being confrontational. It's a discussion that makes sense. The money will stay here -- we'd be paying local guys to do the work and the site can be used for other purposes, too" (Montreal GAZETTE, 6/7). In Montreal, Bill Brownstein notes Thursday's "popular open house was cancelled at the racetrack and the anti-capitalist group CLAC tried to mar the opening-night F1 reception." CLAC has also "threatened to disrupt further festivities" (Montreal GAZETTE, 6/8). The AP noted Canadian-born former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve "criticized Quebec's student protesters Thursday after they tried to disrupt" the open house event. Villeneuve: "It's time for people to wake up and stop loafing about. It's lasted long enough," Villeneuve said, "We heard them. We listened. They should stop. It's costing the city a fortune. It makes no sense" (AP, 6/7).
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