Indy organizers looking to other Western cities

BILL KAUFMANN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:15 PM ET

CALGARY -- With Edmonton in their rear-view mirror, organizers of the city’s cancelled IndyCar event say they’d eagerly explore making at least a pit stop in Calgary next summer.

After logistical and funding problems surrounding Edmonton’s downtown airport track tanked the event there, Montreal-based Octane Racing Group spokesman Normand Prieur said they’re determined to find a western Canadian venue for next July and Calgary could be considered.

“We’re interested in the western market because we want to expand our business,” said Prieur.

“Calgary would be a nice place as long as there’s a willingness in the Calgary market ... it’s a great city.

“If somebody gets in touch with us, we’d be listening.”

Prieur said he’s well aware of the Calgary fan base that for years has supported Race City Motorsport Park.

The Octane Group, he added, is still coming to terms with the collapse of its Edmonton plans and said organizing for an alternate location -- which normally markets tickets at Christmas -- is a long road.

“It’s very frustrating -- there’s not much time ahead of us and you don’t plan this kind of thing out of a hat,” said Prieur.

The event -- which in Edmonton spanned three days -- would require an expenditure of $5-$15 million depending on whether a permanent track venue or city streets were used, he said.

In Toronto, the only Canadian stop for the race, both a track at the CNE grounds and surrounding roads are employed.

While Edmonton officials pegged the economic impact on their city and province to be $80 million per event, IndyCar lost local organizers $9 million over 2008-09 -- a sum picked up by local taxpayers.

Tourism Calgary’s Maro De Iaco said the group would study the feasibility of hosting IndyCar if they receive a proposal, calling it potentially promising.

“International events like the Indy are very important events for a city and if they’re annual or anchored, they have the potential for having incremental and long-term impact,” said De Iaco, Tourism Calgary’s vice-president of sales and sports events.

“These events cost a lot of money and we’re very selective and strategic about the events we pursue.”

Finding a proper course is a priority and major challenge, he added.

“But there’s definitely options,” added De Iaco.


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