Little chance Baltimore GP will ever come back
J.P. Grant, the man behind the Grand Prix of Baltimore, said that the inability for organizers to settle on dates for 2014 and 2015 have pretty much put the kibosh on the event ever coming back.
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“I’m sad that it’s ending, but so much good has come of this,” Grant said Friday. The race showed Baltimore could handle world-class events, he said.
Grant said it would have been too difficult to bring the race back in 2016 after a two-year hiatus. He used a golf term to describe how tough it would be, calling it “hitting uphill and into the wind.”
Grant, who heads Grand Prix organizer, Race On LLC, said IndyCar and the American Le Mans circuits also wanted the race to return. Baltimore was one of only two East Coast stops on the IndyCar circuit, for example.
“They wanted Baltimore but they understood the reality,” Grant said following a news conference in which he announced the race would end after three years. “They understood this Rubik’s cube we’ve been going through.”
In 2010, when the Grand Prix was unveiled, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said it would be a “game-changer for Baltimore.” But in its three years, the race has been fraught with problems. The Grand Prix was unable to land a title sponsor, although it did have automaker Dodge’s SRT division as a presenting sponsor this year.
Grant said he was in “advanced discussions” with multiple companies about a title sponsorship for 2014 and subsequent years. Grant declined to identify the potential sponsors, or say whether they were based in Baltimore, although he did say he was in talks with consumer products companies, racing-related businesses and financial services firms.
In the end, it was the inability to find dates for 2014 and 2015 that satisfied the two racing circuits, the race organizers, the Ravens, Orioles and the Baltimore Convention Center that doomed the event, which boosted attendance to 152,864 fans this year, up from 131,500 in 2013. Sponsorship dollars increased by 16 percent to 17 percent, Grant said.
“It was truly just the dates,” Grant said.
Race organizers talked with IndyCar and American Le Mans about a June weekend date for 2014, Grant said. But while IndyCar was interested in that weekend, American Le Mans was not because that would have conflicted with the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, Grant said.
Moving the race back to September would have been difficult because IndyCar wants to try to end its season before the National Football League schedule heats up.
As for future sports-related ventures, Grant left open the possibility he might get involved in helping bring the Summer Olympics to Washington, D.C.-Baltimore.
“It’s an interesting proposition,” Grant said, declining to elaborate. Baltimore Business Journal