IndyCar – Edmonton Return Makes Headway

Late Friday afternoon, the Edmonton City Council voted 9-2 in favour of a plan to revive the Honda Edmonton Indy 300. The initial deal between the City of Edmonton and race promoter Octane Racing Group fell through when the city demanded that the runway currently used as part of the racing circuit remain open and operational during the race weekend. This meant that an additional $3M needed to be invested in the venue to lay new tarmac and rebuild the pit and grandstand areas on the opposite side of the airfield.

The City felt that Octane should absorb the additional costs, whereas Octane felt it was the City’s responsibility. The stalemate between the two resulted in the event being removed from the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, leaving a gaping hole in the schedule right in the middle of the summer and leaving a lot of egg on the faces of the city officials who are hoping to make Edmonton the location of the 2017 World’s Fair. Backing out of a contract in this manner sure did leave a black mark on the city, and even though the race may be back on, the stigma of what the city council did remains.

The new deal as it stands now makes up for the $3M shortfall by raising $2M from parking proceeds that the city will realize by turning part of the airfield into a parking lot for a nearby mall during the remainder of the year. The final $1M will be supplied by private investors. The deal isn’t quite complete, however. The city council approved the plan this afternoon, and both INDYCAR and Octane have endorsed it, but it still needs to be signed by Octane. One would presume that since no additional money will be needed from the promoters, that its pretty much assured that they will.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this whole soap opera is how the event went from being completely removed from the schedule, and even from the IndyCar.com website, to potentially back and better than ever. Mike Cockrall, perhaps better known to those on Twitter and the IndyCar.com forums as TeamCanada1, has been involved with the event since its Champ Car World Series days and before that when the event was held in Vancouver under CART sanction. His efforts through an enormous grassroots campaign getting twitter followers and other fans wherever he could reach them to email the Edmonton City Council and through the local race supporters group called the Go Indy Group were instrumental in changing the minds of the most of the council members. Be sure to listen to our next podcast, Episode 66, where we have a conversation with Mr. Cockrall about his efforts and experiences with the Honda Indy Edmonton race.

UPDATE:
In an article from the Edmonton Sun, it appears that Octane has already signed off on the new deal and that now all that remains is for INDYCAR to formally accept the new contract.

Octane executives were in Edmonton early in the week to work out details before returning to Montreal confident with the vote to proceed to the point of having final versions of paragraphs agreed to and signed sometime next week. The promoters must then re-do the deal with IndyCar, but all involved have been assured Edmonton will get the same July 23-25 dates. — Indy back on track, Edmonton Sun

Mike Cockrall had a conversation with INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard yesterday in which the Mr. Bernard said he was pleased that the details had finally been worked out and that the event would be back on the 2011 schedule.

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