OD’s probe into racial favoritism and public funding of sporting events in Birmingham, Alabama continues to turn up some interesting results with the assistance of Al.com commentators.
I learned this morning that Birmingham lost the chance to host the United States MotoGP for three years at Barber Motorsports Park when a deal between Zoom Motorsports and the City of Birmingham crashed and burned due to the lack of public funding in 2005:
“MotoGP is a worldwide racing circuit that stages 16 motorcycle races in different countries during the racing season. It has not held a United States Grand Prix in a decade, and the Barber Motorsports Park is reportedly the leading candidate to land the race in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The 2005 race would be scheduled the weekend before the May NASCAR race at Talladega and could draw up to 100,000 people to the Barber racetrack and museum located off I-20 in Birmingham near Leeds. The Grand Prix has a worldwide television audience of more than 200 million that is broadcast to 200 countries.”
“Controversy between George Barber, owner of Barber Properties, and Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid over the dilapidated Sears structure deprived the city of a chance to host to one of the top motorcycle races in the world.
A year ago, Barber asked the city to commit $250,000 annually for three years to bring the North American Grand Prix to the Barber Motorsports Park. The race is part of the MotoGP, a worldwide motorcycle racing series that is the equivalent of the Formula One racing circuit for automobiles. In exchange, Kincaid asked for control of the Sears property, but Barber would not comply, arguing that the economic impact to the city should be a sufficient swap. Famed Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, got the Grand Prix instead.”
In 2005 and 2006, 153,653 people and 151,000 people attended the MotoGP at Laguna Seca in California. 140,250 came in 2008, 105,817 came in 2009, 51,436 came in 2010, 136,000 came in 2011, and 137,221 came in 2012.
“Dorna officials claim attendance figures were slightly higher this year than last. This year’s three-day event total of 137,221 was a slight bump from the 136K in 2011. It seemed to us the stands were less occupied this time, especially on Saturday. Race-day attendance of 52,677 was basically unchanged.”
Later this month, the 2013 MotoGP is coming to Austin, Texas:
“Austin City Council members voted 5-2 on Dec. 13, in effect, to sponsor the circuit’s application for money from the fund, which is controlled by state Comptroller Susan Combs’ office. City, circuit and local organizing committee officials signed agreements about a week later.
The application seeks about $2.2 million, of which $1.9 million would come from the state tax revenue generated by the three-day event and about $300,000 from a local entity. Normally the local money would come from Austin, but Circuit of the Americas organizers have agreed to pay the local share.
The application also includes a Dec. 18 letter from City Manager Marc Ott to Combs in support of the application.
… MotoGP is motorcycling’s equivalent of auto racing’s Formula One. It’s the pinnacle of the sport and will have two other stops in the United States in 2013: Indianapolis and Laguna Seca in California.
At each location, the three-day event might draw 130,000 to 140,000 fans, with upwards of 60,000 for a Sunday race, officials have said.
The Austin study says that about 86,000 people will attend race day April 21, a Sunday, with a total attendance over three days of 161,000. Those figures are based on attendance at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis for the past three years and a “novelty effect” for a first-year event, the study says.
About 55 percent of attendees are expected to come from out of state, according to the study.
Circuit spokeswoman Julie Loignon would not say how many tickets have been sold or from where people are buying them. Most of the U.S. sales have come from Texas, she said, and the majority of international sales have been from Mexico, Canada and Great Britain.
The study considered how much fans, team personnel and drivers, media, sponsors and others will spend on hotel rooms, food and drinks, car rentals, and shopping and entertainment in Central Texas. It says up to 9,700 hotel rooms will be needed for the race, about a third of the city’s 30,000 rooms.
Most of the money spent — about 80 percent — would stay in Austin, the study says.”
David Sher recently published an article which showed that Metro Birmingham was ranked #197 out of 200 metro areas in job growth. The City of Austin, which has wisely chosen to bring the MotoGP to Texas, which Mayor Bernard Kincaid and the Birmingham City Council rejected in 2005 over control of the blighted downtown Sears building, was ranked #2 in the same Milken Institute Survey.
In two weeks, Austin, TX will be filling 9,700 hotel rooms with MotoGP fans. The 161,000 fans expected to attend the MotoGP in Austin is almost 3x the number of fans who attended the 2012 Magic City Classic. 101,821 football fans attended the record setting 2010 Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Comeback Town or Tragic City?
Note: Instead of three years of the United States MotoGP, the Birmingham City Council inked a deal with “G Entertainment” for the world class Vulcan Bike Week. This is the kind decision that explains why Birmingham was ranked the 4th worst city for business out of 50 cities in Alabama.