Baltimore Grand Prix staffing costs for city: $1.4 million

During its three-year run, Baltimore's Grand Prix IndyCar race cost the city about $1.4 million in increased staffing, overtime and related expenses.

City officials disclosed the staffing costs in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request filed by The Baltimore Sun. Related expenses include items such as feeding workers during the event and purchasing ear plugs for them. (See video)

When a major event is held in Baltimore, the city has to pay overtime for police, transportation workers, firefighters, paramedics and others to handle the needs of thousands of people in one place. During 2012's Star-Spangled Sailabration event at the Inner Harbor, for instance, the city paid $555,0000 for staffing expenses, including $161,000 for paramedics.

In the first year of the Baltimore Grand Prix, the city spent about $917,000 on increased staffing, including $324,000 for transportation workers and $126,000 for paramedics.

In year two, under new race management, the staffing costs dropped to $337,000 — but the race organizers paid the bill.

This year, the city spent $487,000 on staffing during the Labor Day weekend event and will not be reimbursed.

Overall, "the Grand Prix costs were in some cases lower than what the city traditionally spends on a large-scale event," said Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "Also, I would note that in terms of economic impact, the city generated revenue far outpacing what was spent."

About 160,000 people attended the race the first year, generating $47 million in economic impact, according to a city-commissioned study. About 131,000 attended the three-day weekend event in 2012, generating $42.3 million in economic impact. No study has been released for the 2013 race.

The studies for the two years said the race yielded $1.7 million in city taxes and $2.1 million in state taxes in 2011, and $1.3 million each for the city and state in 2012.

Race On LLC, a firm led by local financier J.P. Grant, took over the race in 2012 and handled it in 2013 as well.

Harris noted that many major events in Baltimore do not reimburse the city's expenses, including Artscape, Sailabration, the Preakness, the Baltimore Book Festival and Ravens games.

Citing scheduling conflicts, Grand Prix of Baltimore organizers announced in September that the race would be canceled for the next two years and is not likely to return.

The city used a $7 million federal grant before the 2011 race to create an IndyCar-quality racetrack on downtown Baltimore streets. The city's Department of Transportation hired contractors every year to help with the race. Last year, they were paid $174,000. Previous totals were not immediately available.

Rawlings-Blake "works to strike the right balance between making Baltimore a popular destination for events and investing city funds wisely," Harris said. "The economic impact and positive national and international media exposure far exceeds city costs." Baltimore Sun

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