Windsor council to mull $50,000 sponsorship for grand prix
'Detroit does a lot of things for us, and we do a lot of things for Detroit'
At least one Windsor city councillor opposes a proposal by Mayor Drew Dilkens to spend $50,000 sponsoring this year's Belle Isle Grand Prix.
Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk questions the benefits of spending that kind of money at the IndyCar Series race, saying he prefers to invest in Windsor organizations that attract money to the city.
"I would rather see that $50,000 being spent on home-grown organizations and home-grown events right here," he told CBC News.
Dilkens issued a report asking city council to approve the sponsorship of the IndyCar Series race event that he says "will draw in hundreds of overnight guests to the City of Windsor" and will deliver "significant economic impact to our city."
Kusmierczyk criticized council for rejecting funding requests from local groups like the Windsor International Film Festival, saying the city should support organizations like those before spending money in Detroit.
The city was a sponsor for the Detroit IndyCar Series race in 2008, and again from 2013-15. It cost the city a combined $270,000 for those four years, spending $85,000 in 2008 and the same amount in 2013, and $50,000 per year for 2014 and 2015.
According to the report from Dilkens, $50,000 gets the city a grandstand, wall signs, naming rights and positioning at the race's centre for international media among other benefits. The city's name is also included in brochures, press releases and media guides to the event.
The mayor has support from Windsor's top tourism official, Gordon Orr, who says a City of Windsor sponsorship of the Belle Isle Grand Prix is a success.
"Michigan, and Detroit in particular, is a key target market for our leisure traveller," said Orr, the CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island, which executes the sponsorship on behalf of the city. "It's very important we're in that marketplace and we're glad the City of Windsor affords us the opportunity to do so."
Advertising effect difficult to gauge
Kusmierczyk questions the benefits of spending the money, considering the lack of tangible proof that it boosts Windsor's economy.
"When it comes to the $50,000 for the [Belle Isle] Grand prix, there's absolutely zero oversight in terms of how that money is spent," Kusmierczyk said.
Orr did not provide measurable metrics to gauge how the marketing project is bringing in returns on the investment.
A total of 370,000 fans have attended the race since 2012, according to Orr, but he said it's difficult to come up with a number of how many fans saw that advertising and decided on making their next vacation in Windsor or Essex County.
It's also not clear if the materials handed out to reporters resulted in stories about the region.
"It'd be very difficult to track the return on investment," Orr said. "The leisure traveller, we're not sure if they're travelling that particular weekend or if we ignite some sort of a spark in them that they think, 'Hey, we want to visit Windsor-Essex down the road.'"
Orr supports the project even without proof the marketing project is a success, .
"What I can tell you is if you're not there, you're not going to have that exposure or those touch points with the potential visitors coming in from the other side. But it's all about keeping that relationship going," he said.
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