10:30 AM EDT, May 21, 2012
Why is it that The Baltimore Sun is so negative about the Baltimore Grand Prix ("Worse and worse," May 9)? Why is it that The Sun's sports pages rarely include any articles about IndyCar races leading up to the Baltimore Grand Prix? Why would they want to snuff out an event that puts Baltimore in such a positive light?
As quoted in The Sun as recently as May 10th, Baltimore is considered a "hell hole" by many outside of the city. So why is The Sun so negative about an event that puts beautiful views of Baltimore on TV for so many to see? As far as I am concerned anything is better than"The Wire"!
Many if not most comments by the race teams and race weekend attendees from last year had rave reviews of the city, the people and the event. Yes, the organization that ran the event was financially incompetent, but the city has to realize that an event of this type needs some buy-in and potential start up expenses for this to pay off in the long run. Just look at Long Beach, Calif., which has had their event for 38 years now. I have been to the Long Beach event many times and can truly say that based on last year we have the Long Beach of the East (that is a big compliment)!
It is not only the money generated during the event but also the TV coverage and other intangibles that make the event so much worth it. Some businesses might get more or less customers that weekend, but many realize they are exposed to tens of thousands of visitors and other potential customers who may come back to the area at a later date. How many companies saw Baltimore as a potential place to bring their trade show, conference or other event based on the beautiful views presented on TV? Do the research on Long Beach — they have had the same issues, but the local economy understands the benefits and supports the event year after year.
Based on recent articles in The Sun, the city expects to invest approximately $800,000, but last year's event generated approximately $50 Million in economic impact. Not even close to the original estimates, but not chump change either. Sounds like a pretty good return on investment in my book. The event far exceeded attendance expectations last year, and as long as the new promoter can get this show on the road (pun intended), there is no reason to not believe that attendance will be even better in the future.
Shame on The Sun and the other media outlets who projected gloom and doom for the city in regards to potential traffic and crowd issues when in reality no issues were presented on race weekend. I personally attended all three days last year and had no trouble with traveling from Howard County to the city and parking within 2 or 3 blocks of the event. No traffic issues whatsoever. I have worse issues traveling on the Beltway every day going to work. We ate and drank at area restaurants with little or no waiting for a table. Had the media not been so negative and promoted the event, maybe the other businesses around the area such as Little Italy would have experienced at least their usual business or possibly even an increase in typical Labor Day weekend business, which is somewhat slow that weekend anyway. So typical of the media to rant and rave about anything that makes for titillating news or TV broadcasts … can you say "snow storm"?
My recommendation is to get on the bandwagon and be positive. Include articles in the sports pages about the races leading up to Baltimore's Grand Prix in order to generate interest in our event. A positive attitude would do wonders to make this event the best it can be. This is the only East Coast IndyCar event and has potential to bring people here from all areas up and down the Eastern seaboard as well as from all over the country. We need take a long view as to how successful it could be in the future, how positive Baltimore is portrayed, and how not Baltimore is a "hell hole."
Steve Jeffries, Ellicott City
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