The Australian Grand Prix will remain at its home at Albert Park for the remainder of its current contract, local officials have confirmed on Monday, ruling out a change of venue to a proposed site at Avalon, south of the city of Melbourne.
Spiralling costs and ongoing losses being footed by state taxpayers have seen the event’s future being repeatedly called into question, and earlier this year the Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker floated a switch of venue to a purpose-built facility at Avalon.
Details from a Victorian state parliament budget hearing confirmed that any notion of a change in venue – with the facility mooted to cost some $AU300 million to finance – had been quashed, as confirmed by Major Events Minister Louise Asher.
“The Grand Prix is going to stay at Albert Park,” she told local media. “One of the reasons the branding of Melbourne has been so successful is that the Grand Prix is at Albert Park.”
The ongoing costs to host the event, however, would continue to be at the forefront of any future negotiation to renew the contract to stage the race at Albert Park, with the current agreement running out at the end of 2015. Asher suggested that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone would be called upon to lower his promotional fee in order for the state government to consider renewing a deal.
The exact amount paid to Ecclestone’s Formula One Management group is unknown to most, with the state Government pushing through several pieces of legislation (when the race was first brought to Melbourne in 1996) to keep it off the public record.
“I think taxpayers could get a better deal if the contract had less in it for my good friend Mr Ecclestone and more in it for Victorian taxpayers,” she added.
“I would love nothing more to have the grand prix stay on a contract that was fabulous value for taxpayers – the issue is whether I can deliver that.”
A supreme challenge indeed…
[Image via LAT]
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