|Date: 5/11/2010 11:41:11 PM|
Baltimore Approves IRL GP
By Walter Elliott
BALTIMORE, Md. -- The Baltimore Grand Prix is a couple of penstrokes away with the Indy Racing League and promoters Baltimore Racing Development from reality since the city Board of Estimates singed a five year staging contract here May 5.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said that repaving the city streets that will make up the 12-turn 2.4-mile Inner Harbor circuit may begin as early as this week. The road work includes using $5 million in federal road maintenance money with the city asking the State Legislature for a $2.75 million state loan for related improvements.
The city, BRD and the IRL may sign the five-year sanctioning cobtract on or about May 20. The agreement would place the Baltimore GP on the IRL's IZOD Indy Car Series calendar for 2011-15. The three-day weekend may well be set in late August.
All five estimate members approved the city's contract with BRD in the Wednesday night public hearing. That contract includes BRD spending around $13 million on race preparations and an annual event fee to the city in exchange for sharing event revenue.
Both parties are to work on a management plan covering construction, traffic, public safety and other areas.
BRD, according to the "Baltimore Business Journal," has signed GKV media as the race's marketing and public relations agency. GKV is to target the Northeast Corridor from Northern Virginia into Metropolitan New York City.
The Motorsports Consulting Srrvices Martyn Thake-designed course is to have the Indy cars head south along the harbor's Light Street and also head south and north on Russell Street past the MLB Oriols' Camden Yards. Parts of West Pratt, West Conway and West Camden srteets are to be used.
The course's southernmost point is a hairpin just short of the NFL Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium - where general admission ticket holders can watch the race on a giant screen television. There will also be stands to seat some 50,000 around the course.
Proponents said that the Baltimore GP is to generate $50 million a year in ticket sales, lodging and retail revenue - including $2.2 million in annual tax revenue. The revenue is comparable to the $60 million boost Maryland experiences with the Preakness Stakes Triple Crown horse race.
An estimated 150,000 fans are to take in the race and related festival activities.
"This is whe we xall a game-changer," said Rawlings-Blake.
The vote culminates a five-year effort by BRD to bring Indy cars to the Inner Harbor. Twice Indy 500 winner Al Unser, Jr., has served as a consultant.
City Councilman Bill Cole said that neighborhood groups have been and will continute to be included in the race's planning. Letters of support from Federal Hill, Oterbein and Ridgely's Delight residents were presented to the board.
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