New Jersey announces 10-year deal from 2013
A 10-year deal for a grand prix in New Jersey has been officially announced, with the first race planned for 2013.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie confirmed in a statement that the race would be run on a street circuit around the Port Imperial area in Weehawken and West New York, with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop. The race is scheduled for June, and Christie said that it would raise the profile of the area.
"I'm pleased that New Jersey will play host to Formula One beginning 2013, bringing one of the world's most popular and exciting sports right to our backyard," Christie said. "The race will be a 3.2 mile road race, run on existing roads through Port Imperial and at the top of the Palisades in Weehawken and West New York ... People from the whole world will come to New Jersey to see this unique and exciting course."
The mayors of Weehawken and West New York recently revealed they were in negotiations with several investors. The intention is not to use any public funding as it was felt this would be deeply unpopular in a time of recession.
Richard Turner, the Mayor of Weehawken, and Felix Roque, his counterpart in West New York, believe the race could kick-start a stagnant local economy. "In these uncertain economic times when every direct and indirect revenue source is vital, our own Formula One race could be a very positive boost to our citizens," they said in a joint statement.
"This said, we need to ensure that the financial benefits from the privilege of having these races in our towns are equitably shared and that no tax dollars are used. The investor group has already told us that our towns would be substantially compensated annually."
The New Jersey race will run alongside the US Grand Prix in Austin, which is set to make its debut on the calendar next season, although a second race is unlikely to be well received by investors in the Austin project. It is also possible state funding, which is key to the venture, could be jeapordised by a New Jersey GP.
"The New Jersey race has no bearing on the Austin race," said Brooke Botello, a spokesperson for Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. He added that rules regarding use of the fund would apply if a similar event were held in Texas, but not if it were being staged in another state or region.
Local attorney Bill Aleshire, a vocal opponent of the race subsidy, disagreed with that interpretation. This past weekend, Aleshire sent Combs a letter stating that should a second US Formula One race be secured, then F1 would be "disqualified from receiving the $250 million in tax kick-backs from Texas. By our state law, the Texas tax kickback is available if Texas has the only F1 U.S. Grand Prix."
Texas race promoter Tavo Hellmund, however, says that the two races will be very different and will help to raise the profile of Formula One in the United States.
"When I walked the site a few years ago, the site's potential was obvious," Hellmund said, "I am excited for the East Coast and feel Tuesday's announcement is yet another acknowledgement of the viability, fan interest, economic benefits and prestige an F1 Grand Prix event brings to a region.
"New Jersey and Texas, nearly 2,000 miles apart, offer unique and very different fan experiences destined to not only raise the visibility of the sport in this country, but also increase the global attraction and US support of these world-class events. These two regions are going to be terrific backdrops for the world's most advanced form of racing."
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has been in talks with various promoters to bring a street race to Greater New York over the years but the plans have never reached fruition.