Time’s up, will Canadian GP survive?

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Some grands prix succeed and some don’t. Some muscle their way onto the Formula One calendar with all the hopes and aspirations of becoming a motor sport haven and achieve that status while others fade like the bumper of a 1980’s Ford leaving only the bare, yellow plastic that once was a substantial veneer on an otherwise nice product. The Canadian Grand Prix has been the success story for many years and now as the contract renewal approaches, some are concerned about the Federal, provincial and local governments ability to execute a new contract with Formula One Management.

It’s has often been rumored that the sanctioning fee can be in the range of $25 million and that number is certainly one that was thrown about loosely when the Austin race was being coordinated. For Canada, government support is and has been afforded and some are concerned if that support will continue as local bar owner, Ziggy Eichenbaum told Global News:

“We’re worried about that,” he said. “We don’t know if the government of Quebec or Ottawa are going to say,  ’well, it’s not bringing us anything, let’s bail out.”

The problem for Ziggy, and many business owners like him, is that the race generates nearly $90 million for Montreal and it represents 30-40% of his annual business. That’s a huge impact for local owners and one that can certainly be measured at the local level but are the Federal folks on board? An official Federal statement, received by Global News, stated:

“We will work with the promoter and the other levels of government to see if it is possible to keep this event here, while respecting the taxpayers’ ability to pay,”

The article suggests that there maintenance for the park / street circuit is $15 million per year and this is on top of the $25 million sanctioning fee. It also argues that the exclusivity the Canadian Grand Prix once held has gone with Austin and  potentially New York coming on board but those venues are not Canada. Canada is a great country with a rich history and a cultural feel all its own. Most Americans I know who attend the race do so because it is a truly great experience and has an international vibe that you do not get here on home soil. I suspect that’s because they get to hear the French language and butcher it with reckless abandon.

The cash will always determine the possibility of losing any grand prix. Let us hope, for F1, Canada and even America, that the Federal, Provincial and Local governments get together to save the race. I suspect they will get a deal done and if FOM has to take a bit of a haircut, they would do well to consider that as Austin, possibly New York and a potential west coast race will become a achievable goal for Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. It is, after all, a global sport and ignoring the world’s biggest consumer market is just daft. This includes, much as they may not like to be lumped in with the American market nuance, the wonderful nation of Canada.

Nod to Billy Shields, of Global News, who carried the story and a video interview can be found here.

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