Fearing that the Melbourne city government’s flagging support could scuttle the future of the Grand Prix remaining on Australian shores, the bosses of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) are scouting other potential venues for the event after 2015.
With Albert Park’s contract due to expire after the 2015 race, the state of Victoria’s second-largest city, Geelong, has emerged as a potential host venue, with AGPC bosses Ron Walker and Andrew Westacott challenging the city’s council to start lobbying for the event.
Promisingly, the city’s mayor, John Mitchell, has vowed to take the matter to his next discussions with the state government, adding that it would be at the “forefront” of their next meeting.
The moves come in the wake of Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, sparking debate in recent weeks by suggesting that his city should reconsider its involvement in Formula 1, citing the continued and escalating losses state taxpayers are having to cover in operating costs for hosting the Grand Prix each year.
There have been suggestions that the city could stage a street circuit race along its picturesque waterfront.
“If you were to pick a location there would be none nicer than The Esplanade. We saw how good it looked when the UCI (cycling championships) were held,” Mr Westacott said.
“If Geelong wants to put its hat in the ring I would suggest it’s a great opportunity now and get your mayor to come in and push for it in Geelong.
“If your mayor wants it and Melbourne’s Lord mayor doesn’t, let’s raise the issues,” he added.
“We will put our hand up and if Robert Doyle doesn’t want it we will take it,” added Lord Mayor Mitchell. “A Grand Prix in Geelong sounds good to me and what a great event it would be if came off.
“We believe major events are a big part of our business and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t start the discussions now and see where it takes us.
“If Melbourne is prepared to throw away the GP, why can’t we build infrastructure to have it down here,” he added.
[Original image via Live In Victoria]