Baltimore race moves closer to green flag


By Dave Lewandowski

A plan to bring the IZOD IndyCar Series to the streets abutting Baltimore’s Inner Harbor cleared its final city hurdle May 5 as the Board of Estimates agreed to a five-year contract with Baltimore Racing Development Corp.

The panel unanimously approved $8 million in state and federal funds to prepare 2.4 miles of roads for the potential race weekend. The promoter, which must donate at least $100,000 every year to local non-profit organizations as part of the agreement, is seeking to have the sanctioning Indy Racing League add the venue to its 2011 schedule.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the Board of Estimates’ unanimous vote as it is a key step in bringing the Indy Racing League to Baltimore in 2011,” said Terry Angstadt, the Indy Racing League’s commercial division president. “We will be working with the promoter to finalize a sanctioning agreement in the coming weeks and will announce more details regarding the future race at that time.

“Baltimore is a great fit for the Indy Racing League as it gives us a presence in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Baltimore Racing Development, as well as the city of Baltimore, has been very enthusiastic throughout this process and we are confident they will put on a first-rate event to showcase the stars and cars of the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

bal-trackieMayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, City Council members and representatives from Baltimore Racing Development Corp. made the announcement at a news conference outside City Hall.

The promoter group estimates an influx of $250 million to the city through ticket sales, hotel stays and restaurant business over the five years as well as $11 million in direct tax revenue.

“This, my friends, is what we call a game-changer,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Baltimore would join Long Beach, Calif., Sao Paulo, Brazil, St. Petersburg, Fla., Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, as street circuit events on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. This year’s 17-race schedule also includes road course events at Birmingham, Ala., Watkins Glen, N.Y., Sonoma, Calif., and Lexington, Ohio, plus eight oval events.

A loop of streets surrounding the scenic and busy Inner Harbor entertainment district and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (where pit lane would be located) will compose the racetrack. City transportation workers will begin preparing streets later this month – a process expected to take a year.

“This event could put Baltimore on the map for all the right reasons,” Council member William Cole IV, whose district would play host to the race course, told The Baltimore Sun. “The festival atmosphere will bring people into the city who have never been here before, and the restaurants, hotels and businesses are going to have a weekend like no other.”



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