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Board of Estimates approves Grand Prix deal in narrow 3-2 vote UPDATE A contract to run a second year of the Baltimore Grand Prix under new management passed a divided Board of Estimates on Wednesday by a 3-2 vote.

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt opposed the deal. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her two appointees on the board voted in favor.

Pratt argued that she hadn't been provided enough time to review the contract and that race officials hadn't properly answered her questions.

"Given the past experience of this event and looking forward, I am more in tune that this event be successful for the city and that the citizens not be burdened with additional expenses. Therefore, I am opposed to this item," Pratt said.

Young, who did not publicly criticize the race Wednesday, has said the city should focus on more important issues, such as improving recreation centers.

The 2011 Grand Prix drew 160,000 fans to Baltimore over Labor Day weekend and was hailed by many as a race-day success. But the organizer, Baltimore Racing Development, accumulated at least $12 million in debt, including more than $1.5 million in city taxes and fees.

The city canceled its contract with Baltimore Racing Development in December. Downforce Racing was announced last week as the administration's choice to be the new race organizer.

Pratt's real estate officer, Walter Horton, questioned Grand Prix supporters at length about the contract Wednesday, suggesting changes and additions. He asked why the agreement wasn't structured as a lease and said the organizers should be required to visit city schools to discuss automotive careers. The last-minute wrangling caused Rawlings-Blake to bristle.

"I'm sure that there aren't commitments that you're looking for on the spot," the mayor said.

Under the terms of the contract, Downforce Racing, which is composed of Dale Dillon, an Indianapolis building contractor, and two former Constellation Energy Group executives, Felix J. Dawson and Daniel C. Reck, must present monthly financial reports to the city.

Several community leaders testified in favor of the race but asked for increased community impact funds for nearby neighborhoods. Last year, Baltimore Racing Development provided $100,000 in community impact funds. This year's contact calls for about half that figure. Baltimore Sun

02/22/12 Baltimore's Board of Estimates today voted 3-2 to "approve the city's contract with Downforce Racing to run the Baltimore Grand Prix for the next five years." The approval was "expected," as board members Solicitor George Nilson and Dir of Public Works Alfred Foxx were appointed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is "heavily in favor of the race" and also serves on the board. The two members of the board not appointed by the mayor, Comptroller Joan Pratt and City Council President Jack Young, both voted against the deal. BIZJOURNALS.com
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