F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "revealed that the '15 Grand Prix calendar will feature a night race on the streets of Bangkok," Thailand, Christian Sylt wrote in the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Ecclestone said that "the location has now been chosen, and specified that the race would come a year later." Ecclestone said, "They say 2014, and I say 2015. It is serious and it is good." The annual fee for hosting an F1 race is $27M, and it is understood that "the government of Thailand would foot around 60% of the bill." The "rest is set to come from local companies" such as Thai brewer Singha and energy drink maker Red Bull. Ecclestone said that "the race is backed by Chalerm Yoovidhya, the fourth-richest man in Thailand through his 51% stake in Red Bull." The addition of this grand prix "increases pressure on the sport's crowded calendar." There are already 20 races slated for '13 with Russia and New Jersey, U.S. set to join in '14. The number of races "is restricted to 20 by the Concorde Agreement." The teams "object to adding more races due to increased transport costs and the added time staff would have to spend on the road." Under the agreement, "only a consensus from the teams can cause the schedule to expand beyond 20 races or if over 60% of them are outside the sport's traditional markets of Europe, the U.S. or Canada" (WSJ, 12/18).
MAYBE MOROCCO? Sylt also revealed in PIT PASS that Ecclestone "has spoken to the King of Morocco about hosting a grand prix in the country though he stresses that this is unlikely to take place." The last Moroccan Grand Prix was held in '58 near Casablanca." A senior F1 sponsorship agent said, "There is a huge amount of investment in Marrakech. Some locals said it's even overcrowded and prices are falling again." He added: "Great location. But these kinds of money are only in the King's coffers, and I think he would promote Casablanca or similar cities that need a new drive." The King of Morocco "has reportedly set a target of doubling the number of tourists visiting the country to 20 million by '20, and F1 would help give it a boost." Ecclestone agrees but said that "he does not think the market is right for F1." Ecclestone said, "I met the King of Morocco a couple of years ago and talked about F1, but what reason would it be good for us? The manufacturers are not selling anything there. How many people would come?" (PIT PASS, 12/15).
Rapid growth "has made Asia the big new destination for world golf, but there’s an unmistakable sense of gloom as long-standing events face an uncertain future and local talent stalls," according to the AFP. A "bitter turf war between two rival circuits, which has spooked sponsors and divided players, shows little sign of easing, and Asian golfers are making slow progress on the world stage," with just nine in the top 100. China is "developing at a glacial rate in competitive terms," with only three men among the world’s best 800. Traditional cornerstone events "are facing trouble." Prize money "at the venerable Hong Kong Open was slashed" to $2M, and organizers "went cap-in-hand for government funds to pay appearance fees for top players." The Singapore Open, touted as "Asia’s Major" and its oldest national open, lost title sponsor Barclays and is missing from next year’s European schedule, with its future date and backers still unclear (AFP, 12/19).
A government report revealed that long-term benefits of hosting the Rugby World Cup last year are "likely to be more significant than winning the event," according to Michael Daly of the DOMINION POST. Enduring benefits identified in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment study included "positive visitor experiences, new connections, new major-event capability, infrastructure developments and raised interest in volunteering." The tournament's success was highlighted by "consistently high attendances," with 1.48 million matchday attendances and stadium capacity usage across the entire tournament reaching 94%. Statistics New Zealand estimated 133,200 visitors from more than 100 countries attended, "well above forecasts of 71,000 to 85,000 visitors." A key government goal in bidding for the tournament was to demonstrate New Zealand's "ability to host major events" (DOMINION POST, 12/19).
The Global Champions Tour "will return" to Vienna, Austria in '13, according to the KURIER. The global show jumping circuit, which stopped for the first time in Vienna in '12, "will return to the Vienna Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square) from Sept. 19-22." Organizers "will erect a temporary stadium with 4,500-seats in front of Vienna's historic town hall." The GCT Vienna Masters 2013 "will consist of 16 different events, including a five-star jumping competition and a four-star dressage competing, with a total prize money of €600,000 ($797,100)" (KURIER, 12/19).
The Int'l Tennis Federation has awarded the hosting rights for the 2013 Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group III and IV events to Myanmar. The Tennis Federation of Myanmar will organize the two group events back-to-back from April 22 to May 5 at the 10-court Thein Byu Tennis Stadium in Yangon (PHNOM PENH POST, 12/19). ... The New Zealand Open badminton championship has been upgraded to a World Federation Grand Prix tournament from next year. It will carry $50,000 prize money and be part of a three-tournament series in Oceania "squeezed between tournaments in Sydney and Tahiti." The tournament will be held at the North Shore Events Centre from April 10-14 (FAIRFAX NZ, 12/19). ... The city of Chelyabinsk, Russia has signed a deal with the Int'l Judo Federation to host the 2014 World Judo Championships (IJF).