BALTIMORE (WJZ)—IndyCar officials flew to Baltimore to listen to complaints from the city and the mayor about problems with the Baltimore Grand Prix.
Mike Schuh has the latest.
Usually the promoter finds a sponsor, but the Baltimore Sun is reporting that the lead promoter could be on his way out. So, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says it’s up to IndyCar to come up with another leader and to bring a sponsor to Baltimore’s race.
In the final weeks before the first race, Indianapolis businessman Dale Dillion was brought in to tie up loose ends. He’s credited with saving the race.
“The city of Baltimore was absolutely beautiful last year, and we were proud to be here,” said Randy Bernard, IndyCar CEO.
So when the city needed a new promoter after the financial failure of the first, IndyCar recommended Dillion.
“You have to give them the confidence level. The event is going to happen,” Dillion said at a press event just eight weeks ago.
But now his company is spinning its wheels. Deadlines are being missed. There’s no title sponsor. No tickets are for sale.
“When deadlines are missed, we reached out and want to make sure deadlines are on track,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The city summoned IndyCar leaders and told them to fix the problem.
“But I am convinced with Indy stepping up that this is going to be a showcase event,” the mayor said.
City Hall sources say IndyCar has stepped up by promising stable leadership and a title sponsor. But a local marketing expert, who has put on some pretty big events himself, says time has really run out.
“It’s going to be hard to pull off at this point,” said Jeff Dudley, Sports Marketing Institute.
Dudley raised the money to build Unitas Stadium for Towson University and organizes major local lacrosse tournaments.
“I don’t know, if they don’t have their website up, I don’t know if they have the ability to fulfill their tickets. They’re just not ready. That should be a big red flag. This stuff is not brain surgery,” Dudley said.
Some sports marking people say “Boy, they’re wishing it to happen, but it’s getting so close.”
They don’t think it will, but the mayor is still hopeful.
“I’m used to the naysayers, but I heard that same story last year, and it turned out to be a beautiful, beautiful weekend,” Rawlings-Blake said.
“I’m not a naysayer,” Dudley said. “I believe with this type of project there are enough believers who want to do it, but I don’t think you do it in a way that puts you behind the eight-ball.”
IndyCar really wants this to happen. The city hopes IndyCar can meet its demands as the clock is ticking.
That race is scheduled for Labor Day, which this year is Monday, Sept. 3.