Edmonton Indy leaves $3.9M debt

Edmonton taxpayers will pick up the remaining $2.4-million shortfall left by the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy, the city announced Tuesday.

Edmonton taxpayers will pick up the remaining $2.4-million shortfall left by the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy, the city announced Tuesday.

The 2009 Edmonton Indy has left a $3.9-million debt for the City of Edmonton to pick up. ((CBC))
The figure is in addition to $1.5 million the city gave to the auto race earlier this year.

"From Northlands' perspective, we believe that the revenue problem that contributed to the shortfall is directly related to the recession," Brian Leadbetter, director of government and community relations for Northlands, told CBC News.

Edmonton Northlands, which oversees the Indy event, is a not-for-profit organization run by the city that organizes events and festivals.

Leadbetter said the challenging economy cut into ticket sales and corporate sponsorships. Attendance at the Edmonton event was expected to be 150,000 but the Indy Racing League does not allow events to release final attendance numbers, so how many people actually attended isn't known.

Another contributing factor was that the race received less money than expected from the provincial and federal governments.

"We certainly believe that the event brings significant profile to the city, and that while we do appreciate that there are significant financial challenges, that the success of the event should not be measured only in financial terms," Leadbetter said.

The race generated an estimated $80 million in economic activity for Edmonton, the release said, and reached a worldwide audience of 310 million.

In January, Edmonton city council said the 2008 edition of the Indy had left a deficit of $5.3 million, far more than the $1 million that was originally projected.

The city had agreed before the event to cover any losses through the duration of the three-year contract, which ends in 2010.