The future of the Edmonton Indy could be in the hands of a private company by the end of the week.
City council voted 7-5 on Wednesday night to give municipal officials the go-ahead to negotiate a three-year deal with a Montreal firm to take over operation of the race.
Octane Management, promoter of the Montreal Grand Prix in the Formula One series, would be responsible for the Indy's bottom line, though the city would still have to kick in an unspecified amount of sponsorship money.
A deal would keep the Indy in Edmonton and would be good advertising for the city, Mayor Stephen Mandel said.
"When you look at last year, I mean, when you take a look at what we get, it's about $18 million just in coverage, on the media coverage, when you get just the number of times the city's name is mentioned," Mandel said. "That stuff is invaluable, so over three years it's $54 million — not a bad deal."
Race week volunteer Tom Hinderks said the deal would give the Indy the boost it needs.
"The Indy needs a better focus, it needs the experience that comes with somebody like Octane," Hinderks said. "Having somebody at the helm who's got the experience, has the contacts and understands the industry as deeply as somebody who can run a Grand Prix … is a huge advantage."
The first two Edmonton Indy races cost the city $9.2 million, and this year's event is expected to bleed another $3 million.
The Edmonton Indy weekend begins Friday at City Centre Airport.