Proposed Indy Race for Providence - Mixed History in Baltimore
Monday, October 14, 2013
The race in Providence would replace Baltimore as a venue on the Indy race circuit. The Baltimore race had a checkered background was never able to secure a lead sponsor and left unexpectedly in 2013 citing scheduling problems.
Race Organizers in Baltimore - a Mixed Bag
The first race organizer BRD's contract was canceled in 2012 after it left the City businesses and the City of Baltimore with millions in unpaid bills. According to reports in the Baltimore Sun, creditors were left with $12 million in unpaid bills including the City of Baltimore which was stiffed for a reported $2 million.
The new race organizers were led by J.P. Grant - the head of one of the largest investment firms in the city and tied to the political infrastructure of the City of Baltimore. Grant heads the firm Grant Capital Management and his firm has recently completed financing projects for the City of Baltimore totaling $88 million. Grant led the consortium who organized the race in the past two years.
"To make a profit, a promoter needs a title sponsor. This capital allows promotion and and a profit. The Labor Day date for Baltimore was not available in future. Series wanted new date so they could end season on LD at another venue. As far as Baltimore getting the shaft, cities don't make $ on events. The Super Bowl, Final Four, etc. always lose $ for cities," leading Indy Racer Blogger, Mark Wilkinson tell GoLocalProv.com.
Most aspects of the defunct race are now in question, including attendance, financial viability and actual cost to the city. One critical issue that is not in dispute is that Baltimore was never able to secure a lead sponsor. The lack of title sponsor undermines the economic viability of high profile, high cost sports events. "Even though Baltimore is off the schedule, rumors of interest from Providence, Rhode Island persist. It ticks all the same boxes as Baltimore. Unfortunately, the lack of a title sponsor would probably sink that race, too," writes Wilkinson.
Attendance for the three-day event ranged from 100,000 to 150,000 in total during the years the race was operational in Baltimore. A race day in Baltimore is about equal to an average night for WaterFire - 40,000, although some high profile Waterfire events have hit as many as 100,000 for a single evening. "The key question will be who the Providence people decide to choose for their promotional partner. Baltimore made poor choices initially. Keep in mind that street races are an incredible inconvenience for local businesses, urban workers, and commuters," said Wilkinson.
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