Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Baltimore Racing Development and Indy Racing League officials in Baltimore on Wednesday to formally announce that the Baltimore Grand Prix will be part of the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule for at least five years, beginning next year. The inaugural event is scheduled for Aug. 5-7, 2011 on a 2.4-mile temporary street circuit that incorporates the Inner Harbor area and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The announcement follows the unanimous approval of a Baltimore City Council Resolution and a vote of the Maryland Stadium Authority to formally support Baltimore Racing Development's efforts to pursue an IZOD IndyCar Series race.
“This is a historic day for Baltimore and the State of Maryland, as well as entire East Coast Region,” Jay Davidson, CEO of the Baltimore Grand Prix and Baltimore Racing Development, said at a news conference. “When we began our pursuit of this race over two years ago, we had a number of major steps to accomplish and are so thankful to the state, city and the community for embracing our efforts. This three-day festival of speed will not just include car racing, but will feature family-friendly activities, offer great entertainment and much, much more.”
The Baltimore Grand Prix is projected to attract more than 100,000 people to the area and have an estimated economic impact of $70 million, based on visitor spending on hotel nights, meals, tickets and other purchases, plus direct tax revenue. Tickets and hospitality suites will go on sale this fall.
“In August 2011, our city will be the home for one of the most exciting sporting events in the world,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “I want to thank the governor, BRD and IndyCar officials for your role in making this race a reality for Baltimore. In addition to filling city hotel rooms and restaurants, this street race will change the way the world sees Baltimore as a result of global media exposure to millions of Indy Racing League fans who attend similar events in, Sao Paulo, Long Beach and St. Petersburg.”
Former Indy car great Al Unser Jr., Chuck Kosich of MJ Promotions, which owned and operated both the Houston Grand Prix and the Cleveland Grand Prix, and Martyn Thake, who has designed racetracks on three continents, have been consultants on aspects of the circuit and event. The Maryland Stadium Authority approved more than $1 million in changes to Russell Street near Oriole Park at Camden Yards to accommodate a pit area adjacent to the ballpark. The city is dedicating $5 million in federal road maintenance funds to the project and is requesting a $2.75 million state loan for related improvements.
“I don't believe I have seen a greater degree of analysis and due diligence done from any group,” said Terry Angstadt, the Indy Racing League's commercial division president, in remarks at the news conference. “The Baltimore Racing Development people really have done their homework, have really secured the broad-based support necessary to make an event of our size successful.”
The full 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule will be announced in July, league officials said.