BALTIMORE (AP) -- Michael Andretti could soon be part of a new team that will run Baltimore's troubled Grand Prix auto race, city officials announced Thursday.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a proposed five-year agreement on Thursday with Race On, LLC, and Andretti Sports Marketing. It would be the third group to lead the Labor Day weekend event on a course that winds through the streets of downtown Baltimore.
A study found that the inaugural Grand Prix last year generated $47 million in economic impact. However, the city terminated its contract with Baltimore Racing Development after that group failed to pay $1.5 million owed to the city. In February, the city approved a contract with Downforce Racing LLC, but a new operator was sought after Downforce missed marketing deadlines for the event.
"The Grand Prix was a great event for Baltimore that boosted our local economy and showcased our city on the international stage," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "This has been a difficult process, but Race On and Andretti Sports Marketing have what it takes to move forward and make this world-class sporting event successful for Baltimore."
Andretti Sports Marketing, led by the retired driver and team owner, will provide a "turn-key" solution, including
sponsorships, public relations, marketing, hospitality, ticket sales, track construction, grandstand layout, and logistics, city officials said.
Andretti said his company has a history of resurrecting races in cities such as Toronto, Milwaukee and St. Petersburg, Fla.
"So, we are confident we can do the same for the Grand Prix of Baltimore," Andretti said. "By combining our decades of
motorsports expertise with the substantial backing of local investors and community support, we believe the Grand Prix of Baltimore can become one of the most prominent sporting events on the Eastern Seaboard."
The city's Board of Estimates is scheduled to vote on the contract on Wednesday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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