Rawlings-Blake: City won’t increase spending on Grand Prix

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blakesaid Wednesday that the city would not increase spending on the Baltimore Grand Prix to ensure the Labor Day weekend race comes to fruition.

"I'm hopeful that with Indy's involvement that it will happen," Rawlings-Blake said of the three-day racing festival.

City officials and IndyCar executives have been trying for weeks to hash out a deal to continue the race. Downforce Racing, the team city leaders picked to organize this year's race, is divided by internal strife and has not sold tickets or marketed the event. City officials chose Downforce following the financial collapse of the group that put together the inaugural race last year.

Rawlings-Blake said that "all options are on the table," when asked if she was open to signing a contract with a new racing group.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said this week that his group was seeking new promoters and partners to put on the race. With just four months to go, a new racing group would need a significant investment from IndyCar, private sponsors or the city to organize the three-day racing festival.

When asked if the city would consider spending more money to make the event happen, Rawlings-Blake said, "No."

Under its deal with Downforce, the city would spend about $800,000 on salaries for fire fighters, police, sanitation workers and other workers assigned to the event. Assuming that about 100,000 tickets are sold, as they were last year, the city would recoup $300,000 of that under the deal with Downforce.

Rawlings-Blake's administration has already invested nearly $7 million in preparing a 2-mile stretch of Downtown roads to withstand the race. City officials have said that many of the road repairs had already been slated to happen in a couple years and were merely expedited. Other road alterations for the race, such as moving traffic lights and scaling back curbs, comprise a fraction of the costs, they say.

The administration remains close-mouthed on the status of talks with IndyCar and Downforce.

"We're still in negotiations," said Rawlings-Blake when asked whether the city planned to sever the contract with Downforce.

"Indy racing has taken a significant interest in Baltimore," she said. "It was a race that their sponsors their fans were very interested in." Baltimore Sun

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