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SBD Global/December 4, 2012/Finance

F1 Makes Money From Collapsed Theme Park Project In Dubai

Only F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "could make money from a project, which never saw the light of day," according to PITPASS. In '05 plans were unveiled "to open an F1 theme park in Dubai," UAE. Concept art of the project was released, ground was broken and "construction work began." It was part of the £40B Dubailand development, "which was expected to span 107 square miles -- twice the size of Disney World in Florida, which is currently the world's largest theme park resort." It soon became clear that "some of the only people likely to benefit were Ecclestone and his business partners in the Delta Topco company, which runs F1." Others "were suckered in regardless." The brakes "were put on the theme park project soon after the Dubai property market crashed during the recession a few years ago." In '10, Ecclestone revealed that the F1 theme park "is not happening," but he added that "Delta Topco had nevertheless been paid by Dubai-based developer Union Properties." An indication of how much it received has now come to light in recently-produced F1 company documents, which state that revenues from the Middle East in '10 "increased by $21M to $142M." It was a 17.3% boost on the $121.1M revenue from the region in '09 and, according to the documents, "was primarily due to escalators in television and race promotion contracts, new fees for standalone GP2 and support races in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and 'fees received for an aborted theme park deal in Dubai.'" Ecclestone "could not have predicted that the property market would crash after he signed the agreement for the theme park, but he made sure that F1 would not lose out if it did" (PITPASS, 12/1).

AGE MATTERS: In London, Tom Cary reported Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo "has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone, suggesting F1's CEO is now too old to be in control of what he is saying." Ecclestone last week criticized the Italian team "for querying an overtaking move by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel." Ecclestone said that the furore was "a complete joke." Montezemolo "has now hit back at Ecclestone personally." Speaking over the weekend, Ferrari's president criticized "the current lack of testing in F1 and lack of opportunities for younger drivers before aiming a barb at Ecclestone himself." Montezemolo said, "Since some people have used the expression 'It's a joke' in recent days, I would like to say that this is the real 'joke.' My father always taught me that you have to have respect your elders, above all when they reach the point that they can no longer control their words. So I will stop there" (TELEGRAPH, 12/3).
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