Edmonton Indy is Back « The Canadian Headlines Newspaper
EDMONTON — City officials are looking at possible future Edmonton Indy locations after finally completing an agreement to hold the race locally for the next three years.
A deal with promoter Octane Motorsports was announced last November, but it took six weeks and a meeting at the company’s Montreal headquarters before contracts were signed, city chief financial officer Lorna Rosen says.
“It’s quite difficult to actually negotiate agreements long distance,” she told a news conference Tuesday.
“We went to Montreal last week and got all the players in the room at one time … there were no significant roadblocks to us accomplishing this. These are just legal agreements, there was wrangling over specific clauses.”
The city will arrange a $3-million paving project on about 4.5 hectares along the City Centre Airport’s east side to help make a track out of the runway closed last August.
The extra asphalt will be used as an area primarily for grandstands, pits and other facilities during the July 22-24 races, but the rest of the year it will provide parking for 1,000 vehicles.
Edmonton is contributing $2 million, paying off the expense with an estimated $450,000 in annual parking fees, primarily from NAIT students and car dealers storing their vehicles.
Local businesses will kick in $1 million worth of labour, material and cash.
City council also voted to provide $5.5-million in sponsorship and $1.5 million in transit, police and other free services over three years, but it won’t have to cover any deficits.
The city spent about $12 million making up losses on the race rung up in the last three years, and cancelled the event in the fall before the two sides reached the current deal.
“Indy will showcase our city during one of the most beautiful and colourful times of the year to more than 100 countries,” acting deputy mayor Ed Gibbons said.
“This event serves as an important business stimulant.”
But the planned redevelopment of the airport means the race will have to find another home by 2014 at the latest.
It needs to be within city limits, preferably with a view of the skyline to show on TV, Rosen said.
Potential sites include Northlands and the one-time Expo 2017 grounds in the river valley or the University of Alberta’s South Campus, although the search is still in the extremely early stages, she said.
“It’s a bit of a complicated question as to what already happens on the site … while it does require an amount of land, not as much as you might think.”
Octane, which runs the Montreal Grand Prix and NASCAR, would also like to explore having more races than the Indy in Edmonton, Rosen said.
However, company spokesman Normand Prieur said for now they’re focused on organizing this year’s event and have no preference about other track locations.
“We’re aware of some of those scenarios, but for the next months for sure the priority will be to look after the next three years and make sure we succeed in 2011.”