Organizers of the Izod IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Baltimore on Friday announced that calendar conflicts have "doomed the event for the next two years" and potentially even longer, according to Scott Dance of the Baltimore SUN. J.P. Grant, a partner of event organizer Race On LLC, said any return of the race in later years will be an "uphill battle into the wind." Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said there "are no conversations going on" about a '16 Grand Prix. Holding the event on Labor Day weekend for its fourth and fifth consecutive years in '14 and '15 was "already ruled out because of an Ohio State-Navy football game previously scheduled at M&T Bank Stadium next year and an American Legion convention the year after." Baltimore and Race On officials said that they "attempted to broker an alternative that meshed with the schedules for city conventions, the Orioles and Ravens, and IndyCar and Le Mans racing, but none could be found." Organizers said that they "looked for openings from June through August, but with each alternative, there was a hitch." It "wasn't until recent days that it became clear to organizers they would have to cancel," and as recently as last Wednesday, Rawlings-Blake "gave no indication that the race would be called off" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14). In Baltimore, Sarah Meehan reported Visit Baltimore President & CEO Tom Noonan "did not seem optimistic about the race returning." Noonan: "The momentum is going to be lost from this in two to three years" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/13). RACER.com's Marshall Pruett reported IndyCar and Andretti Sports Management were "blindsided by Grant's decision." The move means IndyCar "forfeits its only event on the eastern seaboard" (RACER.com, 9/13).
CHEERS & JEERS: In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote this year's race was "a smashing success" by most accounts, but it was "obvious at the time that the entire three-day event was running under a caution flag." The cancellation "may also have the unintended consequence of magnifying Baltimore's reputation as a scheduling-challenged city." The event "did evoke some mixed emotions and did not deliver on all that was promised to the local businesses that hoped to benefit from a crowded holiday weekend downtown, but it did succeed in giving Baltimore an image boost from the national and international television broadcasts" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14). Also in Baltimore, James Briggs wrote he can see why visitors "might have loved seeing auto races pour through an urban track," but as a resident of Baltimore, he had "no desire to be anywhere near it." There were "logistical hurdles of getting downtown" during the event (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/13).
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said that he "planned to do everything he could to stop" FIFA's Exec Committee from voting to move the '22 World Cup to the winter, according to Sam Borden of the N.Y. TIMES. Gulati's comments come "despite the fact that he has been on the most powerful committee in soccer for only four months, and despite the risk that he could be seen as the stereotypically loud American trying to shake up the FIFA establishment." FIFA President Sepp Blatter "plans to call for a vote at the next executive committee meeting, which begins Oct. 3," and Gulati "thinks that is wrong." Gulati: "I don’t see at this stage, frankly, how I or any member of FIFA’s executive committee could make a sensible decision. We don’t have enough information, and there are too many questions. I don’t see how anybody in a position of responsibility can take a position without some answers." He added, "If the position I’m taking ... is rocking the boat, then I’m going to be rocking the boat." In addition to climate issues, Gulati "divides the concerns into four categories: how a change affects participants, including players, officials and fans; how it affects FIFA’s economics; how it affects FIFA constituents, like the various domestic leagues and club teams around the world; and how it affects the Qatari organizing committee." Borden noted there is speculation that a change to the winter could prompt countries that lost the World Cup bid to Qatar to "seek legal action." FIFA's corporate partners "might take similar paths, opening the organization to serious liability." Gulati also wondered how a winter World Cup would impact the event's success on U.S. TV, saying, "How does a move affect us trying to promote the game if we’re up against the NFL or college football now?" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/14).
FOX SET TO TROT? In London, Nick Harris cited sources as saying it is "unimaginable" that Fox would accept a switch to winter. A Fox spokesperson said, "Fox Sports bought the World Cup rights with the understanding they would be in the summer as they have been since the 1930s" (London DAILY MAIL, 9/14).
The transfer of the sanction for the WTA tournament in Carlsbad, Calif., "has been approved" by the WTA BOD and the event "will be moved to Tokyo" in '14, according to Matt Cronin of TENNIS.com. The WTA tourney at Stanford Univ. "will move into Carlsbad’s week on the calendar, beginning on July 28, while the new tournament in Tokyo will be played the week of September 15." Octagon, which owns the WTA Carlsbad sanction, "will run the tournament in Tokyo at an undetermined site." A group in Tokyo "sold its WTA Premier 5 level sanction to a group from Wuhan, China, last year." There will "now be three weeks in between the end of Wimbledon and the start of Stanford" without a WTA tourney in the U.S. Southern California "has lost four pro-level tournaments" over the past eight years, including Carlsbad, a WTA and an ATP event in L.A., as well as the WTA Championships, which was held in downtown L.A. from ’02-05. Meanwhile, the ATP Winston-Salem Open, which is played during the same week as the WTA New Haven Open at Yale, "tried to buy the New Haven sanction and make it a combined event," but the ATP BOD "turned down the request." The sanction for the New Haven event is "still being shopped around, but until a decision is made, it will remain on the 2014 WTA calendar in that city and time slot" (TENNIS.com, 9/13).