I’ve seen how this Baltimore Grand Prix idea works when it’s successful. And in theory, it sounds outstanding.
The government builds infrastructure (see Camden Yards sports complex) and it lures commerce into the basin of the city where folks who don’t live in Baltimore actually come to our city and spend money and enjoy themselves enough to want to come or at least tell their friends that the Charm City is actually “charming.”
So, while The Wire and Homocide: Life On The Streets always seems to show the darker, seedier side of Baltimore, these sporting events are allegedly “state sponsored” as a way of creating public relations, marketing and the long tail of telling the story of Baltimore.
I attended the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix last Labor Day weekend. I wrote an extensive analysis of 2011’s events here and reposted this morning at WNST.net.
As I said last year, we have a baseball team here in Baltimore that should be the leader to draw 150,000 downtown on summer (and fall) weekends.
The Orioles had a stadium built with your money 25 years ago. It was built to be the Taj Mahal of our city and served that purpose until the greediest man in the state got control of the baseball team and has turned into a source of civic despair over the past 15 years. It’s so bad that now that the team is winning most folks are yawning into September and the commerce the team drives on any given night for any average business owner in Baltimore is completely negligible.
The dirty little secret that the bought-off media in Baltimore won’t tell you is that Peter Angelos doesn’t care if you buy a ticket or not. He’s making $100 million in profit off of your TV money.
As for the Baltimore Grand Prix and this civic idea to fill hotels and the Inner Harbor, they actually need you to show up and spend money this weekend. This is the second year that my neighborhood has been ripped apart for six weeks in an attempt to draw the same 150,000 people downtown that the baseball team was supposed to draw by being competitive. Yesterday, the Orioles used the Grand Prix as an excuse for why no one came to see a baseball team that is 14 games over .500 as we head to New York for a Labor Day weekend show.
There are plenty of hotel rooms left for the weekend all over the city. That doesn’t happen on a “big” weekend in any major city.
No one in my neighborhood got a “vote” on the issue. It’s six weeks of destruction for my neighbors and anyone who accesses downtown on a daily basis. It’s the second year. And they’re still trying to give tickets away and get someone, anyone to care about IRL or Grand Prix racing. If the city didn’t allow the Orioles to be destroyed, they could get the same 150,000 people downtown this weekend for baseball games.
Last year the organizers said there were 125,000 people. They also told their vendors and the city that they’d pay the bill.
I looked out my window this morning and the event has been greatly “downsized” for 2012 in a lot of apparent ways. They know they’re not drawing anywhere near the six figures of last year.
Ask the vendors who didn’t sell any beer and the businesses that lost money all over the city because people feared the traffic that never happened. I live here. No one is buying me off with a lucrative partnership to lie