SBD/September 16, 2013/Events and Attractions

Grand Prix Of Baltimore Cancelled Through At Least '15 After Scheduling Stalemate

Baltimore's Inner Harbor won't see an IndyCar race until '16 at the earliest
Organizers of the Izod IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Baltimore on Friday announced that calendar conflicts have "doomed the event for the next two years" and potentially even longer, according to Scott Dance of the Baltimore SUN. J.P. Grant, a partner of event organizer Race On LLC, said any return of the race in later years will be an "uphill battle into the wind." Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said there "are no conversations going on" about a '16 Grand Prix. Holding the event on Labor Day weekend for its fourth and fifth consecutive years in '14 and '15 was "already ruled out because of an Ohio State-Navy football game previously scheduled at M&T Bank Stadium next year and an American Legion convention the year after." Baltimore and Race On officials said that they "attempted to broker an alternative that meshed with the schedules for city conventions, the Orioles and Ravens, and IndyCar and Le Mans racing, but none could be found." Organizers said that they "looked for openings from June through August, but with each alternative, there was a hitch." It "wasn't until recent days that it became clear to organizers they would have to cancel," and as recently as last Wednesday, Rawlings-Blake "gave no indication that the race would be called off" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14). In Baltimore, Sarah Meehan reported Visit Baltimore President & CEO Tom Noonan "did not seem optimistic about the race returning." Noonan: "The momentum is going to be lost from this in two to three years" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/13). RACER.com's Marshall Pruett reported IndyCar and Andretti Sports Management were "blindsided by Grant's decision." The move means IndyCar "forfeits its only event on the eastern seaboard" (RACER.com, 9/13).

CHEERS & JEERS: In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote this year's race was "a smashing success" by most accounts, but it was "obvious at the time that the entire three-day event was running under a caution flag." The cancellation "may also have the unintended consequence of magnifying Baltimore's reputation as a scheduling-challenged city." The event "did evoke some mixed emotions and did not deliver on all that was promised to the local businesses that hoped to benefit from a crowded holiday weekend downtown, but it did succeed in giving Baltimore an image boost from the national and international television broadcasts" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14). Also in Baltimore, James Briggs wrote he can see why visitors "might have loved seeing auto races pour through an urban track," but as a resident of Baltimore, he had "no desire to be anywhere near it." There were "logistical hurdles of getting downtown" during the event (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/13).
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