Belle Isle to get more upgrades

Under a lease agreement between the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit executed this week, Belle Isle will become a state park beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and receive upwards of $20 million in infrastructure improvements over the next three years.

The City of Detroit will retain ownership of the island, which hosts an INDYCAR event weekend, but the state holds a 30-year lease with two automatic 15-year renewals. Funds for support and improvements on the 985-acre island will come from grants, bonds and private donations.

"We were excited to learn of the State of Michigan's plan to lease Belle Isle Park and help oversee operations on the island in the near future," said Bud Denker, chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. "As a key supporter of the island, the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix appreciates the state's initiative and we believe this is a positive step for the future of Belle Isle.

"We have talked with representatives from the State of Michigan and we want to assure everyone that the Grand Prix will continue on the island. We are excited to host next year's race on the weekend of May 30-June 1."

Since the Grand Prix returned to Belle Isle in 2007, event organizers have made more than $6 million in improvements to Belle Isle, including extensive paving of the race circuit.

The June 1-2 IZOD IndyCar Series races on the 2.3-mile course were the first doubleheader in series history. Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud were the winners. IndyCar

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