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SBD Global/July 10, 2012/Events and Attractions

Four Potential Investors Look To Ease Silverstone's Rainy Days

A fan walks through the mud to get to the British Grand Prix Sunday.
Silverstone’s Managing Dir Richard Phillips "was close to quitting" as the British Grand Prix teetered on the edge on Friday, with constant rainstorms battering Northamptonshire and turning car parks brown with mud, according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. But as the last of more than 120,000 fans left late Sunday, "the relief was palpable" and Phillips looked at "a future with investors desperately needed" to prevent such a weekend from happening again. "Four potential bidders" are in the frame to take on Silverstone, and "an investment programme estimated at more than £40M ($62.1M) to transform the circuit, adding hotels, a museum, a university site — and, of, course, more and better car parking" (LONDON TIMES, 7/10). In London, Keith Weir wrote the torrential rain that forced organizers to turn away spectators from last weekend's British Grand Prix has lent "extra urgency to efforts to find an investor to help fund" the F1 circuit. In the end, "the sun shone on race day" and organizers were able to accommodate an estimated crowd of 125,000 and "breathe a huge sigh of relief." Phillips said that "lessons had to be learned" and "an injection of cash" for the circuit would help. Phillips said, "We are a private grand prix, a private circuit and we have to do a lot out of our own pocket." PricewaterhouseCoopers is assisting and advising Silverstone in the search for partners for the circuit's owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club. The club has hosted the grand prix since the very first championship in '50. The owners want to lease their 760-acre estate in central England for 150 years "to secure funding for development." The deal could be worth up to £250M ($388M) (REUTERS, 7/9).

NOT WATERPROOF: Also in London, Tom Cary reported that "when the rain fell in such copious quantities" on Thursday night and Friday morning, Silverstone was "just not equipped to cope." During another rain-filled event in '00, Silverstone "turned into a quagmire," and F1 boss Ecclestone labelled it a "country fair masquerading as a world-class event." While £40M ($62M) has been "ploughed into giving Silverstone a facelift," with new pits and paddock complex and a new section of track, the event "is still not weatherproof." Silverstone Managing Dir Richard Phillips said, "There is plenty to reflect upon" (TELEGRAPH, 7/9).

STAYING PUT: The DAILY MAIL reported that Phillips insisted he would stay on as Managing Dir. Phillips declared that "he wants to see through the job he has started" at the Northamptonshire track. Phillips, "I love this place. There is a long way to go with it. We have come a long way, but it's a great circuit and I am lucky to have the job I have got. I would love to be here next year." Silverstone's grounds were able to accommodate all ticket holders on race day. Contingency measures such as encouraging spectators to car share, bumper-to-bumper car parking and staggered leaving times "proved largely successful" (DAILY MAIL, 7/9).
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