No hope for Montreal Grand Prix
Quebec Premier Jean Charest confirmed on Sunday that all efforts to save the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal have failed.
"If we decide to invest public money in an event like the Grand Prix, it's because it makes sense on an economic level," he said. "It has to be profitable."
Quebec's economic development minister Raymond Bachand stated the financial demands by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone proved too steep to keep the Grand Prix in Montreal.
"We've placed our last financial card on the table," said Bachand at a news conference on Sunday. "Unless [Ecclestone] changes his mind, it's over."
Despite the collective efforts of the three levels of government, Bachand claimed negotiations stalled because Ecclestone wouldn't budge from his "excessive" demands.
"Mr. Ecclestone demanded annual fees that started at $31 million and went to $38 million by 2013, so $175 million in total," said Bachand.
"And he wanted a bank or government guarantee. He didn't care who organized the race."
Canada's counter-offer - put together by the federal, provincial, and municipal government proposed - $110 million over five years plus a cut of the annual profits: 75 per cent of the first $10 million and 25 per cent of the remaining funds.
"At that level, we were sure the Grand Prix would be profitable," said Bachand.
Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay and Bachand were among those who travelled to Europe to meet with Ecclestone after the race was scuttled.
The sports governing body caught Canadian officials off guard in early October by releasing a schedule for 2009 that didn't include a stop in the city. The Turkish Grand Prix was moved from August to June 7 to replace the Montreal race.
A lucrative race in Dubai was also added.
Ecclestone said contractual issues were behind the decision and that payments from Canadian officials were in arrears, a claim that was denied.
Next season will be the first since 1987 that Canada will not be hosting a Formula One race. The race was in jeopardy five years ago due to legislation prohibiting tobacco sponsors but a compromise was worked out.
There will be no race in North America for the first time in over four decades.
The race is one of the largest tourist events in Canada, drawing more than 300,000 fans and pulling in more than $80 million per year.
With files from the Canadian Press