Andretti Sports Management managing director Kevin Healy was confident a new date would be secured for the Baltimore Grand Prix when he spoke with RACER on Sept. 6, but something apparently changed between the city and the owner of the event on Thursday.
“As we move forward, we're working as hard as we can as quickly as possible to secure dates so everyone is focused on the same thing; it's not a question of if anyone wants to do the deal, it's just a question of getting all the pieces together,” Healy said last week.
“And in Baltimore there's a lot of variables that have to come together between the Major League Baseball schedule. We have met with the Orioles as well as both sanctioning bodies (IndyCar and IMSA), trying to coordinate and meet all the criteria necessary. So I'm hopeful we'll have everything resolved in another week or so.”
J.P. Grant, whose Race On, LLC, firm contracted ASM to run the event starting in 2012, revealed in an interview on Friday with the Baltimore Business Journal that the event would not continue. Based on the timing of the interview and its release--and the positive momentum Healy mentioned on finding a new date--it appears the IndyCar Series and ASM were blindsided by Grant's decision.
IndyCar released a statement from Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles almost an hour after Grant's interview was published, and ASM is said to be preparing a statement of their own.
“The IndyCar Series, the convention center, the stadium authorities…we've all been committed to continuing the event,” said ASM's John Lopes when contacted by RACER. “The series is committed to ending its season before Labor Day, and although we came close, literally, a new date could not be found.”
Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake maintained a visible presence during the first two editions of the event, yet was noticeably absent from this year's Grand Prix activities, leading to speculation that her support for the race had waned. As of mid-Friday, the Mayor's office has yet to publicly comment on the cancellation of the event.
With the loss of Baltimore, IndyCar forfeits its only event on the eastern seaboard. The race drew its biggest (paying) crowd to date, attracting approximately 150,000 fans over the three-day event. Last year's economic impact was estimated at just over $40 million, and although 2013's figures won't be completed until next week, an increase is also expected in that area.
Given IndyCar's determination to end its season on the weekend the Baltimore Grand Prix had been held since 2011, and its lack of interest in having Baltimore serve as the season finale, it's unlikely the event will return.
“On our end, we did everything we could to find a new date, but it just wasn't possible with the date range we had to work with,” Lopes reiterated.