BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The mayor stuck her neck out and spent $6 million making the city ready for the Baltimore Grand Prix.
As Mike Schuh reports, those who brought the race here declared it a resounding success.
While it sounded like angry hornets, others heard the sound of success.
Terry Angstadt is the president of IndyCar, the company that controls which cities get these races.
“It was absolutely a 10,” Angstadt said.
With a worldwide audience, the city looked good on TV. A race organizer flew to Paris the next day. Baltimore dominated the meeting.
“They were talking about what a remarkable event it was, the unbelievable crowd shots and the scenes of the city,” said Scott Atherton, American Le Mans Series president.
Costs won’t be recovered this year, and firm numbers are scarce. But here’s what they have: 160,000 attended, local contractors were paid $ 3 million for goods and services and hotel business was up 44 percent with many sell-outs.
“Are the hotels happy this morning with the outcome of Labor Day weekend? When you hear of the Hilton up 250 percent, when you hear a 55 percent increase in rate, 45 percent increase in revenue, I think projections were met,” said Tom Noonan, Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.
“It could not have been better for IndyCar,” said Angstadt. “It was great for our business. It was great for our brand.”
On the downside, traffic stunk on Thursday and Friday. Naysayers told the mayor this race would fail.
“I’m not a gloater, and this was not about me,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
And right before a primary, it was suggested to her this race was too risky.
“I was gambling my whole political career on one weekend, you know” Rawlings-Blake said. “I would gamble for the opportunity to hear this. This is people all over the world talking about Baltimore in a way that makes us all proud.”
The city is crunching the numbers. They won’t know if this was a financial success for a couple of weeks.
While the city would like to host the race next year on Labor Day, those running the racing series have not yet published their schedule.