Toronto Indy event will return in 2009

Andretti Green racing announced Thursday the Toronto Indy will return in 2009 thanks to its purchase of the event.

Andretti Green racing finalizes deal to purchase popular race

Toronto's Indy car race will return in 2009.

Andretti Green Racing told a news conference in Indianapolis on Thursday it has finalized an agreement to purchase the assets of the Grand Prix of Toronto, with the first event scheduled for next summer.

Terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.

"As a driver, Toronto was always my favourite race of the year, and it will be no different as a promoter," said AGR co-owner Michael Andretti, who won the event seven times. "The fans are some of the most enthusiastic you'll ever be around and we're looking forward to building on the great history of this event."

Held annually since 1986, the event was dropped from the calendar this year after the amalgamation of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car. The IRL was unable to juggle its schedule to accommodate the event, or one in Montreal.

A race already set for Edmonton will still be run, though the date has not been listed on the IRL website.

Andretti announced in March his intent to purchase the assets of the Grand Prix Association of Toronto.

Since then, he and racing team co-owners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree have been in negotiations with the city, and Ontario and federal governments over grants and other financial relief.

Race's estimated worth to local economy is $50M

While impacts are hard to gauge, Toronto Coun. Joe Pantalone, who heads the board of Exhibition Place where the event is held, estimates the race's contribution to the local economy at $50 million.

"It's not small change, and it provides a venue for residents who enjoy the sport plus a major signature attraction in the month of July for people who come from the United States and beyond," he said.

The final date for the letter of intent by Andretti Green was to run out on April 30, but was pushed back twice to allow final negotiations.

Pantalone said it was his understanding that Tourism Toronto and the provincial government have agreed to economic incentives to allow the race to proceed.

Exhibition Place certainly has, though he would not say to what extent.

"We're still going to make money," Pantalone said. "We have given [Andretti Green] breaks, but we have made a good business deal as well."