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Volume 24 No. 155

Events and Attractions

IndyCar is “seeking a new team to take over the Baltimore Grand Prix,” according to Julie Scharper of the Baltimore SUN. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard yesterday said leaders of the racing series "are currently visiting with some potential partners or promoters" who could put on the Labor Day weekend racing event. He said that IndyCar, if necesssary, would “take over the management of the race directly.” Downforce Racing LLC -- the team city officials “had picked to manage the race after the collapse of last year's organizers -- has not begun marketing the event or selling tickets.” Downforce made “no apparent progress toward meeting two rounds of benchmarks set by city officials.” It also failed to meet “three of the five benchmarks set for March 15, including signing agreements with IndyCar and the Maryland Stadium Authority.” Sources said that the “three members of the racing group -- Indianapolis-based contractor Dale Dillon and Baltimore businessmen Dan Reck and Felix Dawson -- are locked in a struggle.” Sources said that “Dawson and Reck, who are business partners in Wilkes Lane Capital, a Baltimore investment firm, want Dillon out of the group.” Dillon, who “owns a 50 percent stake of the company, has declined to leave.” Bernard pointed out that while Baltimore officials signed a contract with Downforce, IndyCar “never signed a contract with the company.” He added that it is “free to craft a deal with a new group.” Speed’s Robin Miller said the end of May had to be "D-Day" for the Baltimore race. He said that he “believed IndyCar would go to great lengths to ensure the race happens.” Miller: "If IndyCar has to be the promoter, there will be a Baltimore race. I can assure you that they will spend what they need to spend" (Baltimore SUN, 5/1).

A year after it opened bidding to host three new X Games events, ESPN today announced that it will be taking its action sports spectacle to Foz do Iguacu, Brazil; Munich, Germany; and Barcelona, Spain. The cities will host their first X Games events in '13 and subsequent events in '14 and '15. The cities beat out bids from Lisbon, Portugal; Quintana Roo, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Whistler, Canada. ESPN Senior VP/Programming & Global X Scott Guglielmino said, "The three new cities were first in class from a (local organizing committee) perspective and demonstrated passion and interest in making these events special. They're terrific cities with terrific action sports culture." Guglielmino said that Brazil was a key market for ESPN and a place it wanted to take X Games because it is a fast-growing country and the company has a network there. Ultimately, ESPN chose the bid from Foz do Iguacu over Rio and Sao Paolo because of the opportunity to do an event near the area's famous waterfalls. Guglielmino: "The natural environment the X Games will have there will be jarringly different, and it's Brazil, which was a priority for us." It opted for Munich and Barcelona largely because the organizing committees there had "a vision" for tremendous events, Guglielmino said. He added that the recent troubles with the European economy, which has seen several countries revert to recession, did not cause any concerns for ESPN. Guglielmino: "Having six events out there, you're going to run into hurdles here and there. It is a partnerhsip and there are risks on both sides." ESPN plans to restructure its staff to manage its global expansion. Guglielmino said that half of the X Games team will be divided into groups of four to five individuals who will be assigned to work with local organizing committees on upcoming X Games events, on everything from logistics to event marketing to sponsorship sales.