What is the Baltimore Grand Prix really worth?

BALTIMORE - It is pretty well documented, last year's inaugural Grand Prix had its issues, from set up to race to final figures on economic impact (about 50 million) it wasn't the bang most were expecting for their patience, hassle or buck.

"One of the reasons why people don't start businesses, that people don't try to host new events is because it's scary and mistakes are going to be made and there could be some bad outcomes and there certainly were from last year's race including financially."

Anirban Basu runs the Sage Policy Group, an economic policy consulting firm here in Baltimore.

Basu says the Grand Prix was and continues to be a risk for Baltimore but the reward may eventually be priceless.

In coming years the race can grow to be a signature event like the Preakness and with more experience should come a more efficient way to capitalize on it.


PHOTOS | Grand Prix festivities


"I think over time we can make it more of a net positive by realigning the way the course is designed, the area around the course so more people are induced to go to Federal Hill, more people are induced to walk to Little Italy rather that people remaining immediately in the area of the race cars."

Basu says those measures would help spread the wealth; changes Visit Baltimore says have already been made in year two.

"This is the right team that we are working with and I think we are going to see success.  We may see a small dip in numbers this year and I think that will happen, a sophomore slump, but we gave these guys 100 days and look what they did."

Tom Noonan is the President of Visit Baltimore and notes track set up was less of a headache this year, there are now exits that encourage fans to exit into city business districts and even race times were changed to optimize the tourism impact on downtown.

But Noonan says to also look beyond this weekend for the true impact.


SPECIAL SECTION | Grand Prix of Baltimore


There is plenty of international exposure with this race and this year, a measured move; there are 25 convention planners in town scoping the city for their event which may turn out to be a shrewd and possibly lucrative tactic.

"Some of those folks are looking at us for their own major events and they're seeing how Baltimore can do a huge event like this in a really grandiose, professionally run way and we will close some deals out of this by hosting this event here this weekend.   We're showing off," said Noonan. 

So the argument remains that the true impact of hosting this race can't really be quantified in only its second year, but the more immediate dollars will still certainly be watched.

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