BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Saving the Baltimore Grand Prix. The city finds new leadership to bring racing back to Baltimore in an 11th hour deal. Now downtown businesses are breathing a sigh of relief.
Weijia Jiang explains what the deal means for the city.
“It put us on the map all over,” said Giannina Chiddo.
As thrilling as it was, the Baltimore Grand Prix gained infamy as a financial debacle. Inaugural organizers still owe millions in unpaid taxes and vendor bills. But the race turned a new corner when the city unveiled a contract with a new team of managers called Downforce Racing.
“What we saw last year was basically finding the diamond in the rough. We have a real opportunity to polish that diamond up and really make Baltimore shine next year,” said Dale Dillon, Downforce Racing.
Downtown business owners are relieved to hear about the deal. They say Labor Day weekend is usually very slow but the race changed that.
“This is one of those marquis events. It’s iconic. It celebrates Baltimore and attracts a lot of people from a lot of different areas,” said Sergio Vitale, Aldo’s.
For restauranteurs like Vitale, that means more dinner tabs to ring up. For hotels, more beds to fill.
“If the event didn’t happen, you would look and say, `What do we have to draw people?’ It would have left a great big hole on the calendar so it’s great to have it back,” said Larry Noto, Harbor Magic Hotels.
And this time, monetary safeguards are in place. The city will closely inspect Downforce’s finances.
And locals look forward to a smoother ride.
“You had a full house down there last year, you’ll do it again. It’ll just be run differently. Hopefully everyone will be paid and make money,” said Vince Pompa.
The contract could still be tweaked. It’s pending approval by the city’s Board of Estimates. Members are expected to vote next week.
The comptroller is working to recover unpaid money from last year’s organizers, Baltimore Racing Development.