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Grand Prix may race through city's Adventure District


Clifton Adcock October 22nd, 2010

Oklahoma City Motorsports is in the process of securing a sanctioning body and a 2012 date for a race in the city's Adventure District.

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The idea of having Grand Prix racing in Oklahoma City isn't dead yet, despite an earlier setback that scrapped plans for such a race to be held in downtown.

Oklahoma City Motorsports is in the process of securing a sanctioning body and a 2012 date for a race in the city's Adventure District. The company is also working to drum up title and corporate sponsors, as well put together a managerial staff, according to a press release from the group.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution in support of bringing the race to the Adventure District, which includes Remington Park, the Oklahoma City Zoo, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the National Softball Hall of Fame.

"We are close to having the deals in place to bring a race to Oklahoma City, but we want to ensure we have the full support of both the community and the business community before advancing further in our process," said Mike McAuliffe, CEO of OKC Motorsports. "This ringing endorsement for our race from Oklahoma County is both welcomed and appreciated, and puts us one step closer to bringing one of the world's most exciting sporting events to Oklahoma City."

FIRST TRY
The Adventure District is the second proposed location for a Grand Prix race. The first was downtown, and early signs showed the city might be on board with hosting the event when, on March 9, the Oklahoma City Council passed a resolution allowing City Manager Jim Couch to negotiate with Oklahoma City Grand Prix LLC to bring the American Le Mans Series to town in 2011.

However, a report on the prospect of hosting the race by Tom Anderson, special projects manager for Oklahoma City, stated that similar races held on streets rather than dedicated tracks have poor recurrence rates, and would be a risky financial move. The report also noted conflicts that would arise between the race and the extensive downtown renovation plan known as Project 180.

The initial Grand Prix plan was shot down on Aug. 31 when the council voted 6-2 against a measure that would have fronted up to nearly $7 million in capital expenditures from the Oklahoma City Public Property Authority to Oklahoma City Grand Prix.

McAuliffe, who was involved with the OKC Grand Prix group, said he wanted to continue the effort to bring racing to the city after the council vote, and that the Adventure District is better suited for Grand Prix racing because it would be less complicated to create the route and less expensive than the downtown plan.

"I'm doing what I can to bring professional racing to Oklahoma City," McAuliffe said Thursday in a telephone interview. "I've gotten 100 percent support from everybody I've talked to."

He said he has spoken with possible corporate sponsors about the race. So far, two racing series have expressed interest in coming to Oklahoma City, one of which has already made a site visit.

The tentative raceway includes stretches of Martin Luther King Boulevard, N.E. 50th Street, N.E. Grand Boulevard and even a stretch through Remington Park, McAuliffe said.

The event would also be surrounded by week-long special events incorporating many of the attractions in the Adventure District, such as concerts at the Zoo Amphitheatre, plus golf and softball tournaments.

SECOND CHANCE
However, the resolution passed Wednesday by the board of county commissioners, which calls Grand Prix racing "the most exciting sporting event in the world," does not provide any upfront funding for the race.

The measure states that an estimated 75,000 spectators, 40 percent of whom would come from outside the metro area, would attend the event for an estimated economic impact of $15 million to $20 million.

The resolution also states that OKC Motorsports is requesting the support of the county, city and state, as well as local regional and national corporate partners.

"We fully support Mike McAuliffe and OKC Motorsports in bringing a world-class sporting event to our county and our city," County Commissioner Willa Johnson said, in a press release. "The Adventure District sets up nicely for the race itself, and by incorporating all the attractions through events and activities during race week, and the district's central location, this race will positively impact citizens and businesses countywide and beyond." "Clifton Adcock
 
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