Sale of Formula E tickets on hold after Evenko sparks mayor's ire

The promoter of Montreal's international electric car race has halted sales for next year's edition after having advertised it would take place downtown, against the wishes of Mayor Valérie Plante.

Promoter had been circulating material suggesting electric car race would be held in same spot as last year

Montreal's Formula E race, held during the summer, was a major campaign issue during this month's mayoral election. (Tom Boland/The Canadian Press)

The promoter of Montreal's international electric car race has halted sales for next year's edition after advertising it would take place downtown, despite the wishes of Mayor Valérie Plante. 

Earlier this week, a citizen drew Plante's attention to promotional material being circulated by Evenko, which suggested the 2018 Formula E event would follow a circuit similar to this year's.

​The 2017 circuit ran through the eastern end of downtown, forcing the closure of several streets, disrupting residents and businesses for close to two weeks.

Following public anger, Plante campaigned on a promise to either move the race to the Gilles Villeneuve racetrack or cancel it altogether.

"This is really surprising, because at this moment everything is on hold," Plante said Wednesday during a Ville-Marie borough council meeting, where a citizen showed her Evenko's promotional material. 

Valérie Plante, seen here at her inauguration, campaigned on promises to relocate the Formula E race. (CBC)

"As a new administration, we're just now getting complete access to information we didn't have beforehand."

She added that nothing about the 2018 edition had yet been finalized between the city, race promoter and organizer. The previous administration committed the city to holding the race for two more years. 

Evenko contradicts Coderre 

The Formula E race emerged as a major campaign issue in the mayoral election. It required an investment of at least $24 million from the city, and along with upsetting residents and businesses in the area, also appeared to be poorly attended.

But then-mayor Denis Coderre made the race a priority of his administration. He insisted on describing it as success, but refused to release figures about how many tickets were sold.

During the election campaign, Coderre was repeatedly pressed on the sales figures. For weeks he demurred, saying it was up to Evenko to release the numbers.

Evenko released a statement Thursday contradicting Coderre's statements. The promoter said that while it recommended against releasing the figures for strategic reasons, it did not have final authority. 

In the final week of the campaign, after Coderre said he had no problem with the numbers being made public, Montreal it's electric — the race organizer — acknowledged that at least 20,000 tickets were given away free.

Support for new administration's decision

The head of Montreal it's electric, Sylvain Vincent, is expected to sit down with the new administration next week to discuss where next year's race will be held. 

"There are financial and technical issues that have to be resolved if we change sites," Vincent said. "There are different options, but we're ready to talk ... we'll support the new administration's decisions 100 per cent." 

Denis Coderre's re-election bid was hobbled by questions about Formula E ticket sales. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

But moving the race to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where the annual Formula One race is held, would entail a number of complications. 

The Formula E race is currently scheduled to take place July 28 and 29. The racetrack is booked during that time for punk (July 27) and heavy metal (July 28-29) music festivals.

Moreover, much of the racing infrastructure at the racetrack, including the paddocks, is set to undergo major renovations following the Grand Prix June 10.

With files from Radio-Canada


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