Untenable Relationship Kills Boston Grand Prix

Header-image-Shalapata-columnBy Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – Boston is off the 2016 IndyCar series schedule. Originally announced to have taken place on Labour Day weekend, IndyCar organizers were reportedly surprised when the plug was pulled, especially in light of strong advance ticket sales.

In a statement released by IndyCar, racing officials had little advanced noticed of the pending doom for the Boston race.

“We are obviously disappointed with these media reports and are in the process of gathering additional details and will respond accordingly at the appropriate time. At this stage it is premature for INDYCAR to comment further on the situation locally in Boston or the prospect of an alternate event.”

Less than a year ago, Boston lost the bid for the 2014 Olympics, opening the door for Los Angeles to seek a second shot at hosting the event. The 3-day IndyCar event would have been much less of a disruption for Boston residents.

After Boston mayor Marty Walsh last summer refused to promise to cover cost overruns for the Olympics, the USOC pulled the bid from Boston. Last year, as well, Mexico backed out of a contract to host the 2017 FINA World Championships in Guadalajara. The issue there were the ever escalating costs that exceeded $100 million.

In a Boston Globe article by Mark Arsenault on April 29, John Casey, president of the Grand Prix of Boston, indicated there was friction with the city with regards to getting the event off the ground.

“The relationship between us and the city is not working,” Casey told Arsenault. “The relationship is untenable.”

The crux of the situation was an unwillingness by Boston to move on flood zone issues and unguaranteed expenditures. Casey told USA Today that organizers were left with little option but to cancel.

“At this juncture the demands that have been asked of us make this event in Boston economically unviable,” he said.

A statement from the city is unwavering in the stand it took with the Grand Prix organizers.

“As we continued to work with Boston Grand Prix they were unwilling or unable to meet the necessary requirements to hold an event of this size,” Boston’s chief of operations Patrick Brophy said in the statement. “The mayor feels strongly in protecting the taxpayers and limiting the impact to residents, and we are not shy that we held them to very high standards.”

As a result, Casey turned to two other locales in which to hold the Grand Prix.

“They are both willing to do it without the headaches of Boston,” Casey told the Globe.

AutoSport is reporting that those other venues could be either Watkins Glen, in New York, or the Gateway International Raceway oval, of Madison, IL. Both locations have previously held IndyCar races, though it is believed that Watkins Glen has the inside track. A decision is expected by next week.

The Boston experience may cast a shadow in terms of other organizations seeking to bring events to the city.


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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata