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DATE News (chronologically)
02/21/12
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Baltimore Grand Prix's contract calls for keeping financials private  The new contract for the Baltimore Grand Prix calls for keeping the race's finances private, but race organizers say City Hall could choose to reveal that information.

In a section in the contract labeled "confidentiality," the draft states that the company's information will be kept private "to the fullest extent" permitted by laDale Dillon, one of three partners in Downforce Racing, the team picked to run the race for the next five years, said the company plans to keep financial details private. The company is required to file monthly financial reports with the city.

"It's a private company. ... It'd be like going to any business and asking them to open their books; it's a little unfair," he said. "We do have specific reporting times and devices that we owe the city. It's up to the city to disclose that."

Ryan O'Doherty, spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said the city would follow Maryland public information law in releasing the documents.

"All Grand Prix financial documents that are in the city's possession and that are neither privileged nor proprietary in nature are, of course, public information and will be made available upon request, in full accordance with the Maryland Public Information Act," O'Doherty wrote in an email.

In putting on last year's inaugural racing festival, the previous race organizer, Baltimore Racing Development, accumulated at least $12 million in debt, according to company documents, including more than $1.5 million in city taxes and fees. Several private vendors as well as city and state agencies are among the creditors who have not been paid. The city canceled its contract with Baltimore Racing Development in December. Downforce Racing was announced as the new race organizer last week.

Under the terms of the contract, Downforce Racing — which is composed of Dillon, an Indianapolis construction contractor, and two former Constellation Energy Group executives, Felix J. Dawson and Daniel C. Reck — must have presented to the city a financial plan for the 2012 race, demonstrated sufficient funds and secured the participation of "key participants" before seeking Board of Estimates approval. The contract is expected to go before the board Wednesday.

Starting no later than April 15, the contract also requires Downforce Racing to deliver monthly financial reports to the city, including all income and expenses, such as ticket sales and sponsorships, and a current performance report. The company also must provide quarterly unaudited financial statements, including balance sheets and cash-flow statements, and annual audited financial statements. Downforce Racing must allow the city to audit its books upon request, under the terms of the agreement.

David C. Troy, a software developer from Bolton Hill who filed a lawsuit last year in a failed attempt to stop Grand Prix organizers from cutting down city trees, said secrecy helped lead to the first race's financial woes. He said Downforce Racing's financial status is "germane" and in the public's interest, since the race is run on taxpayer-funded streets and in cooperation with City Hall.

"They are asking the citizens and the taxpayers to go into partnership with them," he said. "If I'm going to go into a partnership, I'd like to see what the details are. What right do they have to conceal that information from me? It seems like they're setting themselves up for a legal fight. Maybe they should release the information and everybody would be happy."

Rawlings-Blake controls three of the five votes on the Board of Estimates. Only City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young has said he will vote against the deal on the grounds that the city should focus on more important issues, such as recreation centers for youths. Baltimore Sun

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