Edmonton Indy loses $3.8MUPDATE Indy A pro-Indy car race group hopes to give the city and Northlands a proposal early in 2010 on ways to restructure the event so it can keep running in Edmonton. The changes could involve putting the race in the hands of a private company or setting up a public board with a chief executive to oversee the operation, says Ian MacGillivray, owner of Oomph! Events Inc. Four or five people who, like MacGillivray, have businesses linked to the race are holding an initial meeting today to discuss their initial steps, he said. "It costs(Northlands)money and it makes them look bad. Strategically, do they even want it?"
The city announced this week it will cover a $3.9-million loss on last July's race, more than double the $1.5-million shortfall expected and following a$5.3-million deficit from the first event in 2008. Northlands, asked by the city to take on the Indy after the former Champ Car circuit folded, blamed the red ink on a drop in ticket sales, sponsorship and corporate hospitality spurred by the recession, as well as low government grants.
Earlier this month, MacGillivray's firm helped set up a website(www. ontosomething.ca)and a Facebook group that now has about 100 members to rally support for the race. The three-year contract with the Indy Racing League expires after 2010. But MacGillivray said a decision about whether to seek an extension must be made before next April to allow enough time for planning. ppp "We can't drag this out...$3.9 million for an international event that big is not a big problem to solve." Sean Collins, a manager at Oomph, said the race could become profitable if money was spent in areas such as marketing and buying grandstands, so temporary structures wouldn't have to be rented every year. The city should commit to putting in about $3 million annually for the next five years to lay the groundwork for long-term success, he said.
"Let's build our grandstands, let's find a permanent or semi-permanent location...let's go to the corporate community and say 'this is an opportunity for a party to make the Stampede look like a small kids' party.' "
Although attendance figures aren't released, he said crowds at the three-day event average 170,000 to 200,000 people, based on his observations of the City Centre Airport site and conversations with Northlands staff.
That makes it the third-largest Indy race, he said. "We have this amazing sports event that's seen all over the world...(why do) we kick ourselves in the back?" Northlands spokesman Brian Leadbetter wouldn't comment on Collins' attendance calculations, saying the contract with the IRL makes these numbers confidential.
He described the suggestion of $3 million in annual city spending on the race "highly speculative and premature" when Northlands is still working on a 2010 race budget before councillors decide Dec. 7 whether to continue city support.
It's also too early to tell how the event might be operated in the future, Leadbetter said.
"What the mayor has outlined and we fully support is an advisory group he was recommending to bring forward prior to the 2010 event," he said.
"We endorse that sort of community outreach and engagement, especially with the corporate and business community." Edmonton Journal
11/24/09 This year's Edmonton Indy lost $3.8 million, more than twice the $1.5-million loss organizers budgeted for.
Mayor Stephen Mandel said Tuesday he was disappointed by the loss.
"There was economic difficulty last year and Northlands did the best job they could," he said following an in-camera council meeting to discuss the issue. "We need to be diligent next year. We need to have a bit of a different model, and we're working on it right now."
However the mayor urged members of the public not to focus only on the dollars involved.
"This is an event I think is a great showcase for the city of Edmonton." The race lost $5.3 million in 2008. Edmonton Journal
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