Race promoter not sure of IndyCar Milwaukee return

The group that put on the Milwaukee 225 hasn't given up on bringing IndyCar back to the Milwaukee Mile next year after a disappointing turnout last weekend.

But ultimately, the decision is not theirs.

Interest by IndyCar management and greater support from the business community will determine what's next for AB Promotions, CEO Chris McGrath said Friday.

"Is there a market for IndyCar in Milwaukee on that weekend?" McGrath said. "That's the thing I think everybody has to look at."

The race attracted a crowd estimated at no more than 15,000 people and didn't have a title sponsor to help defray costs and assist with advertising and promotion.

McGrath wouldn't discuss financial details of the event but did characterize losses as "significant."

AB leased the track from State Fair Park. It did not meet May deadlines for picking up its options for 2012 with the fair or IndyCar, McGrath confirmed.

The promoter has since signed a letter of intent, stating it would like to return for 2012. But that apparently is little more than a procedural move; the most important factor is IndyCar also wanting to be back.

"We're looking at what can we do better," McGrath said. "Are there different price tiers that we can put into it? Are there operational changes we can make? Can we drag in a title sponsor early enough to make a difference and really generate some momentum? What additional changes to the advertising might we make? All that kind of stuff, those are the things that we're doing internally.

"From what I read, IndyCar is also evaluating what racetracks it wants on its schedule next year. If it decides it doesn't want to be in a market like Milwaukee, all of our discussion and all of our consideration is moot and everybody will move on."

IndyCar has expressed a strong desire to return to Chicagoland Speedway and to expand its presence in larger markets, and it also has shown some interest in Road America in Elkhart Lake.

The AB staff has not talked with series officials since last weekend, McGrath said.

Shortly after the race, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard had put the chance of the series returning to Milwaukee at 50-50. He said Friday via text message that nothing had changed.

IndyCar presumably could return with a promoter other than AB, although it's unclear whether anyone else would be interested. JSOnline.com

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