Grand Prix promoters loaded with debt, won't stage race again
Government support needed to revive Montreal race: promoters
Two days after the Montreal Grand Prix was dropped from the 2009 Formula One schedule, the event's promoters in Montreal said they are not interested in putting on the race in the future and that government would have to get involved for its revival.
Paul Wilson, vice-president of marketing for Grand Prix F1 Canada, said in an interview with CBC News on Thursday that his company is close to $30 million in debt.
Wilson said the president and CEO of the company, Normand Legault, does not want to be responsible for putting on the event in the future.
"We're not going to do the Grand Prix if we lose money," he said.
"It's a business. Mr. Legault is a businessman, and like any other businessman, if at any point one of your enterprises is not making any profits then you have to look somewhere else to make money."
Wilson has said that the race was dropped because the fees the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) was asking of his company were too high, and that in order to make a profit, ticket sales would have to double or triple next year.
Government support dependent on economic benefits
The government would have to pick up the tab for the race to return to Montreal, he said.
"Amongst the 18 Grands Prix across the world, 17 of them are owned and operated partially or totally by governments," he said.
Ville Marie Mayor Benoît Labonté echoed Wilson's call on Thursday.
"The City of Montreal, the government of Quebec, as well as the government of Canada, should get together to make sure we can put together an offer," he said.
Premier Jean Charest said on Thursday any intervention by the Quebec government to save the Canadian Grand Prix would be conditional on taxpayers seeing economic benefits.
Speaking in Quebec City, Charest stressed economic considerations have guided past efforts by the province to keep the F1 race in Montreal.
Quebec's economic development minister is meeting later Thursday with organizers to try to find out why the Montreal race was dropped from the 2009 calendar, said Charest.
The race draws an estimated $100 million per year in revenues and economic spinoffs to the city.
With files from the Canadian Press