Indy back on track

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:56 PM ET

Youd think they could have saved themselves the embarrassment and humiliation of doing this during Grey Cup week, and reminding the sports world of the incredible stupidity of losing the Honda Edmonton Indy over a paving bill.

On the other hand, maybe its the perfect place, with another excellent Edmonton major sports-event hosting in full and fabulous flight, to announce to the nation that it was only a case of temporary insanity.

Indy is back on track.

The race will return, but to a different runway and with the city inspired by the will of the Edmonton business community to find a way to get the paving bill paid.

The whole deal blew up because the City of Edmonton decided to change not only the runway from the previous six races, but the deal.

Edmonton had lost the showcase event of the summer by trying to stick the newly positioned promoter, which runs both the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix and the NASCAR Nationwide events in Montreal, with a $3-million paving bill.

Earlier presentation

But all is well that ends well and the late July race is going to be back on the IndyCar schedule with Octane Motorsports Events Inc. as promoter for the next three years.

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.

Friday afternoon, with the sounds of Grey Cup hoopla to be heard out the front door of City Hall, council voted to approve spending an additional $3 million using $1 million from private business and $2 million from a creative concept of using the new paved area for paddock, pits, grandstands, etc., to bring in parking revenues during the 11 months when the track isnt being prepared and used for the race.

Its a statement about this city finding a way, said Richard Wong, head of the Go Indy committee who, along with Race Week Edmonton, played a major part in saving the race.

It was a collective effort. It was a collaborative effort. We wanted to make sure Octane knew we wanted a race in Edmonton.

It really is Where theres a way and this is a great day. And now its up to Edmonton to show them for the next three years what we can do.

It was good to do it now. There are a lot of people in town enjoying a great festival of football. These are sports fans. We want them to enjoy every minute of this event and then think about coming back in July to enjoy our festival of speed.

Tom Hinderks, head of Race Week Edmonton, was brimming with enthusiasm after the vote.

More possibilities

It gives us a shot of doing this right and involving the whole city. The external events are now going to be so much bigger around the race.

It opens the door. There are so many possibilities to make it so much bigger, so much more relevant, so much more exciting and so much more fun.

Octane has such an excellent reputation. Im so pleased this is now back on track and to have a promoter from the racing side. Its all about everything around the race, not just the race. Northlands didnt get that.

The people Im most impressed with in getting this race back are the business people for stepping up.

What happened in losing the race was that it showed how badly Edmonton wanted this race, and by Edmonton I dont mean the City of Edmonton. Its like we needed a fight to get everyone excited. Now is our chance to really get everyone excited.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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