Long Beach Grand Prix promoter Chris Pook has estimated that it will cost $9.2m to upgrade the circuit if it is to host Formula 1 in the next few years, as he continues his crusade to bring the sport back to California.
Following the success of the revived United States Grand Prix at the newly-built Circuit of the Americas, plans have been made for a second race to be held at Port Imperial in New Jersey. However, with the project now twice postponed, other options in North America are being considered, and Pook is keen on bringing Formula 1 back to Long Beach.
“We just want the opportunity to state our case, to be considered,” he explained to the Orange County Register. “We just want them to take a look at what we bring to the table. That’s all we’re asking.”
Formula 1 last graced Long Beach back in 1983, and the race has since made up part of the IndyCar schedule. In order to host F1 again, though, some upgrades will be required such as extending the circuit in places. However, Pook says that original estimates are way off the mark, with the price being closer to $9m to complete the work.
“People have been saying it would cost $100 million,” he said. “That number has just stuck in people’s minds. It’s not even close to that.
“The net tax gain for Austin in 2013 was $4.9 million, and the net gain for Texas was $17.2 million. The value of F1 is that it provides new money. F1 racing draws a worldwide audience. You would be tapping into new consumers.
“F1 wants to be in Southern California by 2016,” Pook added. “I’m conflicted, because I want to see it here. It’s where we started and it’s a big piece of history.”
Quite whether Formula 1’s possible return to Long Beach comes to fruition remains to be seen, but Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that he had approached the city when the tender for the race was opened up.
If an agreement is reached, then it could be a more viable option than the Grand Prix of America in New Jersey, but should the latter also kick into gear and finally go ahead, we may have three races in the United States on the F1 calendar by 2016.