Baltimore race organizers give up on finding title sponsor

UPDATE A reader writes, Dear, Why would the organizers give up on landing a million dollar plus title sponsor for the race? Joe Carlucci

Dear Joe, Because the race will be broadcast on Versus, the albatross around IndyCar's neck, where not enough viewers will be tuned in to make it worth that much money to a title sponsor. Mark C.

01/22/11 Organizers of the Baltimore Grand Prix say that they are no longer focused on landing a title sponsor for the three-day racing festival and would be content with a number of smaller backers.

"We have a bucket we need to fill, and it doesn't matter how we fill that bucket," Jay Davidson, president of Baltimore Racing Development, said Friday.

Race organizers had said last summer that they were looking for a title sponsor to pledge $1 million to $2 million. Davidson said the group has declined "low-ball offers" but remains in talks with businesses about the possibility of a title sponsorship.

About $2 million in private equity has been invested in the race, and smaller stakes are available, Davidson said.

The team behind the race includes Peter Collier, former deputy director of the city's parking authority; developer Kenneth Banks; Walker Mygatt, a managing director at Constellation Energy; David Rather, owner of Mother's Federal Hill Grille; Lonnie Phillips, who once operated Sonar nightclub; and Jerry Gottlieb, who has organized concessions at Virgin Fest, the Preakness and other events.

Organizers estimate the three-day racing festival, which is to include concerts, children's events and several races, will draw up to 100,000 visitors to the city.

They say the race will be worth $70 million to the local economy — nearly twice as much as the IndyCar series' oldest contest in Long Beach, Calif. Davidson said organizers included the economic gains to surrounding counties in their estimate.

More than 26,000 of the 100,000 tickets that organizers hope to sell have been purchased since sales opened last month. More at the Baltimore Sun

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