Friday, October 24, 2008

Will there be a 2009 Canadian GP ?

Montreal mayor remains upbeat about a 2009 F1 but details remain scarce

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay reiterated upon his return to Canada on Thursday he is confident the Canadian Grand Prix will be held in Montreal next year.
"We had a very good meeting with (F1 boss) Bernie Ecclestone and I think the signs were encouraging and it is possible we will hold a Grand Prix in Montreal in 2009 and subsequent years," Tremblay said.
"We have a better understanding of the issues and the challenges we are facing."
Tremblay was not alone in trying to persuade Ecclestone to restore the Montreal race to the F1 calendar. He was accompanied at the two-hour meeting in London by federal International Trade Minister Michael Fortier and Quebec Economic Development Minister Raymond Bachand.

Bachand ruled out the event posting a deficit and suggested that Montreal hotels and merchants should become involved in making sure the race is held.
"We must find a promoter, someone to run the event," Bachand told reporters at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Fortier said finding a promoter was one of the primary issues in ensuring a Canadian GP in 2009.
"If the F1 survives, who will be the promoter, the organizer?" he said.

None of the three politicians wanted to specify how much money needs to be put up to ensure the race goes ahead, although Bachand said a number of businesses have expressed interest in helping support a 2009 Canadian GP.

According to some sources, a promoter would need to spend up to $30 million a year over five years to keep the F1 in Montreal. The race generates $15 million in net revenue annually, so governments and business would have to make up the $15 million shortfall.
"We must come up with a responsible financial project that makes sense to Mr. Ecclestone and to Montrealers," said Bachand.
F1 dropped the Canadian GP from its 2009 calendar, replacing it with a race in Abu Dhabi.
Ecclestone says Montreal has not paid its debts to Formula One for the last three years.
But Tremblay, Fortier and Bachand say the amounts for 2006 and 2007 have been addressed, with the dispute tied to what is owed for 2008.
The event generates an estimated $100 million per year in revenues and economic spinoffs for Montreal.
Several local businesses have offered cash to make the event happen. There are also rumblings that Cirque du soleil founder Guy Laliberte, who is friends with Ecclestone, could provide some financial assistance for Montreal organizers.
But a Cirque spokeswoman denies the founder has offered to support Montreal's F1 financially.
"The only role that Guy is playing has been as a consultant, that's all," said Rene-Claude Menard in a telephone interview.
"Right now, we're just keeping a close eye on any subsequent developments."
Fortier also said Laliberte is not involved for now.
"Many people have offered to help but they are all part of the elements we would need to evaluate in the coming days to determine if the Grand Prix will survive and who will be the promoter and organizer," Fortier said.
Bachand admits that the ball is now in Montreal's court.
Nonetheless, "it takes two to tango," he said.
"We still have to sit down for more discussions."

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