Baltimore GP Sees Smaller Crowds; Questions Remain About Spot On IndyCar Schedule
Baltimore Grand Prix organizers “came away convinced that this year's hastily planned event proved an IndyCar race can work downtown,” according to Scharper & Korman of the Baltimore SUN. Race On LLC head J.P. Grant, whose group organized the race, said, “This is a 90-day miracle. Our goal was to put on a race we could handle ourselves." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard “praised Grant's work.” Bernard said that he was “pleased with the crowd and quality of the race.” Bernard “would not guarantee a return, though, as he is still finalizing next year's schedule; that includes negotiating how much Grant's company, Race On, will have to pay.” Scharper & Korman noted Race On “refused to discuss ticket sales, as did Andretti Sports Marketing, which handled promotion." Areas “choked with fans last year were more open, though, and grandstands were slow to fill” (Baltimore SUN, 9/3). Baltimore Grand Prix GM Tim Mayer said that he is “pleased with the results.” Mayer: “All the vendors and all the taxes are paid. We had a good walk-up despite the weather forecast. I'm happy. ... There was tremendous pressure to make it work, and we did. Now, we can make it work very well next year.” Mayer, when asked whether the race will return to Baltimore, said, “We're set up for the future. We have a five-year contract. Why would we work this hard for one year?” (Baltimore SUN, 9/3).
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVES: In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd wrote, “For an event that came together only three months ago after one deadbeat outfit stiffed the city of $1.5 million in taxes and fees and another folded its tent altogether, it wasn't a bad weekend at all.” Grant said, “The business community knows this is a race they can support." Cowherd noted because attendance figures were not released, no one is “exactly sure how many showed up to watch three days of high-performance race cars.” Cowherd: “From my viewpoint, the crowds lining Pratt Street and baking in the stands along the course didn't seem as big as the ones at the 2011 inaugural event. But race officials seemed to think last year's figures were padded anyway. So maybe that's another controversy brewing.” Andretti Autosport Corporate Communications Dir Jade Gurss said, “We’re pleased with the attendance. … Our dilemma is, we may have fewer total numbers, but we more likely have a higher number of paying customers.” Cowherd wrote, “All in all, this year's event ran far more smoothly than last year's, which is astounding when you consider organizers had only 100 days to put it together” (Baltimore SUN, 9/3).
RETURN ENGAGEMENT? Bernard said that the IndyCar BOD will “meet Sept. 20 to finalize the 2013 schedule.” Bernard said that this gives Race On ample time to “sort through the after-race information and added that he does not want to be making multiple announcements about the schedule.” Bernard: “I want one announcement for the schedule. As for Baltimore, I had a very good conversation with J.P. Grant. He's been a huge supporter of this race and wants it to work for the city. He definitely would like to see it back on the series schedule." He said that he “expects to have a 19-race schedule next season” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/2).