Baltimore Loses Bid For Volvo Ocean Race To Newport Over Conflict With Preakness
Newport, R.I., will be the "only U.S. stopover of sailing's around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race in 2015," according to David Klepper of the AP. Newport "vied with Baltimore to host the event," and Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad would not comment on reports in Baltimore media that organizers had "first picked that city over Newport but backed out because of scheduling conflicts with the Preakness Stakes." Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee said that the state expects to "budget $775,000 to cover expenses such as sanitation and public safety associated with the event" (AP, 2/5). Baltimore bidder Ocean Racing USA Exec Dir Robert Housman said of the switch in cities, "We were shocked. ... We won on the merits of our bid and that's a fact." In Baltimore, Candy Thomson notes Volvo officials on Jan. 22 "sent a letter to Housman and other members of the bidding team congratulating them on winning not only the 2014-15 edition of the race but also the race in 2017-18." Almost immediately after telling Baltimore it won, Volvo officials "pushed the possibility of moving the Preakness or of the city hosting both races simultaneously, which prompted a strongly worded four-page letter from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Jan. 28." She noted in the letter, "We only heard of the Preakness weekend date within the last week." Rawlings-Blake "warned that Volvo would find itself overshadowed by the Preakness and would lose valuable media exposure and marketing opportunities." But city and bid officials on Feb. 1 said that they "received a call from race organizers, saying that they would award the race to Newport if Baltimore didn't budge." That afternoon, Newport officials "got a call congratulating them on winning the stopover" (Baltimore SUN, 2/6).