The first Baltimore Grand Prix was, in some respects, a fiasco. The organizers went bankrupt, failing to pay their bills to the city and replace the 198 trees they cut down (something the city eventually went ahead and did on its own at a cost of $41,500). And the economic impact fell far short of projections.
The second one got off to a poor start — the race’s new organizers dissolved before accomplishing virtually anything — but was eventually salvaged with the help of IndyCar driver Michael Andretti and a third group of race organizers — who counted on losing money but promised to pay their bills anyway. Attendance was down, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declined to conduct an economic impact study.
This year’s race is easily the least Mickey-Mouse to date, and yet the future of the race has never been more uncertain. M&T Bank Stadium is all booked up for the next two Labor Day Weekends. And searching for a weekend that doesn’t conflict with events at M&T, Oriole Park, and the Convention Center has proved “frustrating.”
There’s also the problem of open-wheel racing’s flagging popularity nationwide. And there’s a lack of support among some downtown businesses and residents.
For his part, J.P. Grant — the race’s current financier — remains committed to putting on the annual race, if it’s possible. That’s despite expecting to lose money again this year, albeit less money than he lost last year.