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Volume 6 No. 214

Events and Attractions

Electric auto racing series Formula E "is working with authorities in New York on hosting a street race in the city," according to Christian Sylt for FORBES. Formula E launches in September and features cars with 300 horsepower electric motors which will race on 10 tracks in the center of cities including L.A., Miami and Monte Carlo. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said, “We are working with New York but we are kind of waiting to see what happens with Formula One.” F1 "has been in discussions" about hosting a street race in the N.Y. area for decades. Part of the difficulty in getting the race off the grid is the fact that the average annual hosting fee for an F1 race is around $27M. Whereas F1 races are organized by independent promoters who pay an annual fee, Formula E "is arranging many of the races itself and did not charge the cities for doing so." Agag "does not ask for a hosting fee but in return requires cities to provide prime positions for the race as well as assistance with the preparations and introductions to local sponsors." Agag adds that although the Formula E calendar is full for its inaugural season, "it will increase in future." An event in France "could be one of the next additions." Agag: “Paris is ready. A street race in the center of Paris. We have been looking at every place in Paris but there are really cool places where you have all the monuments in the background” (FORBES, 3/28). In London, Georgina Stevens wrote for electric cars, '13 "was not a good year." The "stubbornly outstanding factor is that most people still don't see EVs as aspirational," despite the "great work" of Elon Musk at Tesla, and many others, such as the electric super cars from British manufacturer Lightning. So this "may be where a forthcoming electric racing series -- Formula E can help." Unrestricted by noise and air pollution, as other motorized events would be, the races that take place in 10 major cities "will take place in city centre locations, ensuring high visibility." Also "likely to attract attention are famous team owners" like Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson. Formula E is "confident of their influence, predicting additional sales of 77m EVs by 2040" (GUARDIAN, 3/28).

The Hong Kong Sevens "will have to be pushed back a fortnight" to mid-April in '16 if the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's "ambition to become the climactic final leg" of the Int'l Rugby Board Sevens World Series "is to be realised," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. HKRFU Chair Trevor Gregory said, "We might have to play our tournament a few weeks later, in mid-April. We have to be flexible, otherwise there is no chance we can be the final leg if we stick to the event in March." The HKRFU's wish to become the final leg "is based on the fact that the Hong Kong Sevens -- the largest tournament in the World Series -- can easily decide both the promotion and relegation spots at the same event." For any shift in the calendar to take place, the English union "will have to see the benefits of hosting the start of the World Series -- in September -- rather than being the final leg as it is at Twickenham in May" (SCMP, 3/31).

Ticket sales for Sunday's Malaysian F1 Grand Prix "decreased by one fourth in comparison to the previous year as the nation mourns the passengers and crew of flight MH370," according to the SID. Sepang Int'l Circuit CEO Razlan Razali said, "We've done what we could this year, but against this background the decrease was expected." A total of 62,340 spectators "attended Sunday's race," which was won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Razali: "In the end, however, it was an uplifting event for the Malaysian spectators after we have had so much reason for grief for several weeks." In addition, the organizers revealed that they "held preliminary talks with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone on a contract extension." The circuit's current contract expires in '15 (SID, 3/31).

Race organizers said on Monday that the Tour of Britain "will start in Liverpool for the first time," according to Josh Burrows of the LONDON TIMES. The "Grand Depart" opening stage on Sept. 7 will see riders tackle 10 laps of a 13km circuit, starting and finishing on The Strand in the city center, close to the Royal Liver Building. Liverpool has featured in the '06, '07 and '08 tours, "but has never previously been the launch point for the eight-day race." The rest of the route was expected to "be announced" Monday evening, for a race that was "upgraded to the second tier of world cycling events last month." Race Dir Mike Bennett said, “The opening circuit will be perfectly suited to the sprinters. With the support of Liverpool City Council we are looking forward to making this year’s Grand Depart a memorable occasion for cycling fans" (LONDON TIMES, 3/31).

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will "increase the spectator capacity" at the Yas Marina Circuit by another 4,500 for the '14 season, according to N.D. Prashant of the GULF NEWS. The news was announced at a press conference by newly appointed CEO Al Tarek Al Ameri. A new extension "has already been added" to the Abu Dhabi Hill grassed area that was erected last season. This addition means "it can now accommodate 3,000 more fans." The Paddock Club "has also been bolstered to accommodate another 1,500 extra guests." The tickets for the season-ending event also "went on sale on Monday." Ticket prices for the four-day showpiece weekend, running from Nov. 20-23, "have been frozen" at the '13 levels (GULF NEWS, 3/31). REUTERS' Matt Smith reported Al Ameri "defended Formula One's decision" to award double points for the final grand prix of the '14 season. Al Ameri: "The fact it came to us, that's good for Abu Dhabi, it will keep things exciting to the last minute -- I feel the mentality of the drivers will change. People don't like changes, but for a sport like this, from the history, there are always changes happening with Formula One and that's what keeps it exciting" (REUTERS, 3/31).

The Eritrean national football team, which has "a history of players defecting when on international duty, have withdrawn from the African Nations Cup qualifiers." The team was "due to play newcomers" South Sudan in one of two preliminary round fixtures in April. South Sudan "now proceed to the next qualifying round in Mauritius" (REUTERS, 3/31). ... The second edition of the Indian Badminton League will be held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, the IBL Governing Council said on Monday. The governing council "has decided to allow franchisees to increase the team strength from 11 in the first year to 13 players." Each franchise "can pick two more players" -- Indian or foreign (PTI, 3/31). ... Commercial helicopter operator Abu Dhabi Aviation "will provide the potentially life-saving search and rescue (SAR) support for the medical crews during the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this weekend." The medical team on board "will also study the effects of fatigue in order to assess the risk of competitor error" (GULF NEWS, 3/31). ... Edmonton, Canada and the South African city of Durban "have both formally indicated they plan to bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games." Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Tunku Imran said that both cities "have until next March to formalise their bid proposals before the decision on the host site is made" in Sept. '15 (REUTERS, 3/31).