Montreal Mayor Promises Another Decade of Formula One Races and Subsequent Tourism Bumps

Skift Take

Keeping the race will likely require a sizable investment, which the city expects to make back both in tourism revenues and media time.

— Samantha Shankman

The Canadian Grand Prix will be held in Montreal for another decade under an agreement to be reached soon with the Formula One race organizers, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said.

“Sleep tight, it will be there next year,” Coderre said in an interview today at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York. “We are in the weeks to sign. We just need to make sure that everything” is in place, he said.

Formula One Management’s agreement with Octane Racing Group, the event promoter, expires after this year’s June 8 race at the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit. Octane Chief Executive Officer Francois Dumontier said in a speech in Montreal on April 9 that a new accord is “urgently” needed and that the race’s future isn’t assured.

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s CEO, said he’s optimistic a new deal will be reached to keep the race in Montreal, its home since 1978.

“We’re in the process of getting things sorted out and I’m sure we’ll do that,” Ecclestone said today in a phone interview from London. “We’ll be happy to be back there.”

The agreement being discussed would last 10 years, Coderre said. Formula One drivers “love Montreal,” he said. “It’s a good place. The population is there.”

Normand Prieur, a spokesman for Octane, didn’t immediately respond to a voice mail message and an e-mail today seeking comment.

The city, the province of Quebec and the federal government are being asked to fund improvements to the racetrack that could cost as much as C$40 million ($36 million), Montreal’s La Presse newspaper reported April 10.

Race Cancellation

Ecclestone declined to comment on the size of the investment required, citing confidentiality agreements.

The Canadian Grand Prix was canceled in 2009 due to a dispute between the organizers and the sport’s officials. A new pact was eventually reached and the race returned to Canada’s second-biggest city in 2010.

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix generated spending of about C$90 million, including C$75 million from tourists, according to estimates by Tourisme Montreal, the municipal tourism agency. More than 300,000 people attended the race and qualifying sessions over three days, boosting hotel occupancy rates to 95 percent that weekend, Tourisme Montreal said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frederic Tomesco in Montreal at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scanlan at [email protected] Chris Fournier.

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