Even Long Beach gives out some free tickets
A three-day, reserved seating ticket to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can cost up to $125, but for some major businesses or well-connected individuals, those seats are free.
City, port and tourism officials say that the economic impact of the Grand Prix goes far beyond the few days that the nationally recognized race is in town - it gives the city an opportunity to market itself, to put its best face forward and to attract new business.
With that in mind, the city of Long Beach receives and gives out 250 tickets a year as part of its contract with the Grand Prix, while the Port of Long Beach this year is getting two pit row suites that each include 30 passes, an open bar and other amenities as part of its $155,000 sponsorship of the event.
"The Grand Prix is a chance to bring people into our city collectively for a major city event," said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. "And it showcases our city very well because it shows all aspects of our city coming together for a major event."
The city finalized its list of ticket recipients Monday, and while the list contains some unsurprising names - local economic powerhouses such as Boeing Co. and Molina Healthcare, for example - it is revealing as well in some of the unexpected names that show up and in those that are absent.
The ticket list doesn't include those for staff members who are working at the Grand Prix, including Mayor Bob Foster, who is considered on the clock, Assistant City Manager Suzanne Frick said. A few more names may yet be added to the list, she said, which as of Monday was at 223 of the 250 tickets.
One key company name that is nowhere on the list is Tesla Motor Corp., which the city has been courting to open an electric car manufacturing plant at the former Boeing 717 production site north of Long Beach Airport.
Meanwhile, one City Council member, Tonia Reyes Uranga of the 7th District, loaded up the list with ticket requests for a dozen unions, most of which gave money to her campaign in today's election. More at Long Beach Press Telegram