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Edmonton eliminates its best grandstand
Friday's attendance was larger than some of the oval track race day crowds, but was still down from the Champ Car days
Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, the two fastest drivers in practice for the Honda Indy Edmonton Friday, were dumbfounded when they took their first trips around the track.

What happened to the stands in Turn 1?

Where did they go?

Those stands, both maintain, gave the place a big part of its fabulous flavor, not just for the fans but for the drivers.

It just felt great driving into that colorful crowd before taking that first turn.

“I thought it was very unusual. I was disappointed,” said defending Honda Indy Edmonton champion Will Power, who was fastest on the day as he began his quest to win his third consecutive race of the season Sunday.

“Why did they take them away?” he asked. “I couldn’t understand why they would.

“To me it’s very disappointing. That’s the most exciting corner! I always thought that stand was pretty cool.

“It was a pretty high stand. It’s on Turn 1 at the start of the race where all the passing happens!”

Briscoe was willing to start a petition to return the stand.

“Hopefully, there’s demand from the fans to bring those stands back next year,” he said. “I thought last year there were lots of people up there. It’s a pretty good place to watch the race. It’s where the cars come out of the quickest place on the track. It’s where all the passing happens, actually.

“You never like to see grandstands disappearing.”

So, what were they thinking?

Mike Burton, director of major events for Northlands, explained the decision to reconfigure the grandstand layout and eliminate the stands, which sat more than 5,000 fans.

“The No. 1 reason is that runway will be the only runway in operation at the airport after this year. We were thinking that for the future we wanted to leave a model to leave that runway open as long as we can. It was to keep that runway open and build a model for the track that could work long term.”

Burton called that the No. 1 reason.

But who is kidding whom here? The No. 1 reason was to cut costs.

“Reducing costs was certainly a reason,” he admitted. “To put up those stands as late as we do, we have to pay overtime. And that worked out to an extra $10.50 per seat.”

While the crowd was decent for a practice day compared to other races in the IZOD IndyCar Series, it was nothing like the crowds for practice days when it was a Champ Car event. Calgary Sun

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