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IndyCar’s Baltimore Grand Prix: In or Out – Fan’s Perspective
"Baltimore is warm but pleasant … I belong here, where everything is civilized and gay and rotted and polite." - F. Scott Fitzgerald
IndyCar came out with their announced schedule for 2012 a couple of weeks ago (see related articles) and included among the stops is the Baltimore Grand Prix. Next year (2012) would be their second after having an auspicious debut in 2011. Yes, I said would be - seeing a second event next season looks iffy at best.
The promoter, Baltimore Racing Development (BRD), has had its contract terminated by the city of Baltimore (source - Motorsports.com). This had been coming for some time due in part to BRD owing the city $1.5 million in taxes and fees, which was to have been paid by the end of 2011. It was expected that the grand prix would produce $11 million in tax revenue and a couple thousand jobs, plus it was at first thought to be a huge success all-around.
BRD was in charge of organizing the Baltimore Grand Prix, including selling tickets and marketing partnerships to building the course amongst many other obligations. Now the promoter has debt and lawsuits without much else.
It's not as if the event was a loser per se. The economic impact for the city of Baltimore generated by the race weekend was $47 million (source - Visit Baltimore). The attendance (about 160,000) was great for a first-time event and it's a pretty good size market that isn't being taken advantage of.
Besides, the city itself is still excited about holding another grand prix. The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, stated as such saying: "The event, if conducted responsibly, has significant economic value to potential investors and the City this year and in future years." The city is currently holding dates for the next four years with the hope of continuing the Baltimore Grand Prix (source - Gazette.net).
Finding a new organizer is what stands in the way of having a grand prix event for 2012 or not in the city of Baltimore. It's been rumored that the IndyCar series itself may move in as the promoter but nothing official has come from CEO Randy Bernard or anyone else.
Scheduled for the weekend of September 2, sponsorship is what's needed. A title sponsor for the Baltimore Grand Prix would probably offer the necessary funding for a financially successful event. The huge attendance should be attractive to a corporate partner and with IndyCar rising in popularity; it should be an ideal business proposition for an aggressive and forward thinking sponsor.
The drivers liked the experience, the fans came in droves and the city wants to have the race again, so a potential jewel sits and waits. Whether this event becomes just another given-up failure or a big success like Long Beach will be up to the promoters, the city and the series.
Said Rawlings-Blake: "Hopefully there will be some businesspeople that see it as an asset as I do. You know we have something valuable and we just need someone who can manage that valuable asset." (Source - Baltimore Business Journal)
Sources - Motorsport.com, IndyCar, Baltimore Sun
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus blogged about every type of racing for several years.
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