Attempts to rescue the Canadian Grand Prix and reinstate the event on next year’s calendar have taken a nosedive with Montreal officials unable to afford a marked increase in the promotion fees.
The Montreal race, characteristically one of the most exciting events of the season, was axed from the 2009 calendar in early October with little in the way of explanation from the FIA.
It had been hoped that a financial package, including proposals to increase hotel taxes, would rescue the Grand Prix, but last night officials conceded that it was impossible for the city to afford the sums of money that commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone is demanding of the venue.
The fees to host the race are believed to be $26 million for 2009, raising by five per cent each year, equating to $143 million (USD) over the five year period.
Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay said in a statement: “We were constantly guided in our negotiations by principles of responsible management. However, despite our endeavours and those of the business community, the unreasonable demands of Formula One exceeded the taxpayer’s ability to pay.
“I would like to thank my colleagues from the federal and provincial governments and members of the business community who joined forces in an attempt to save the grand prix.
“Their concerted efforts attest to Montreal’s vitality and could prove an opportunity for creating a development fund for new events of all kinds that would stimulate the economy, tourism and employment.”
Raymond Bachand, the minister of tourism, added: “Whenever the Grand Prix of Canada needed help from the Government of Quebec, we were there.
“We worked very hard over the past few weeks to ensure there would be a grand prix in Montreal, while staying fiscally responsible. We cannot meet Mr. Ecclestone’s unworkable demands. Unless he eases his requirements and adopts a different approach, there will be no grand prix in Montreal in 2009.”