Future of St. Pete Grand Prix could be in question

(Getty Images)

In a city known for sunshine, the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series St. Petersburg Grand Prix has suddenly begun to turn cloudy.

Several members of the St. Petersburg City Council are questioning the value of the series’ annual season-opening event, particularly money the city puts into it, as well as how much money is generated for local businesses.

The controversy began when IndyCar officials recently informed the city that the 2016 race date will be moved up two weeks, to be held in mid-March (13-15), rather than its customary end of the month race dates.

Part of the reason for the date change is the following two weekends are the 12 Hours of Sebring race and the Easter holiday. Plus, the popular Mahaffey Theater, which is along part of the race course, has a conflict on the first weekend of April.

In addition, council members are questioning why race promoter Green Savoree Racing Promotions will not open its books to the council to see how much money the three-day event is actually making.

Council members also suggested that perhaps the city has outgrown the event that drew an estimated 160,000 race fans this past March, according to a report by TampaBay.com.

A meeting last week between the council and Green Savoree became contentious, with some council members indicating the city should put the event out for bids from other potential promoters after the current contract ends in 2017.

To which Green Savoree co-founder Kevin Savoree said, “Good luck with that,” according to TampaBay.com.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has called for a council vote next month to extend Green Savoree’s current contract through 2020.

Kriseman has also said he will not seek bids from other potential promoters, according to city development administrator Alan DeLisle.

“You don’t want quality to walk away,” DeLisle said.

But several council members are balking at the extension, including council member Jim Kennedy, who remarked, “Are we getting the best deal?”

Savoree replied, “If you guys want us, you want us. If you don’t want us, we understand. This is business. And over the years, promoters around this country and around this world have come and gone like yo-yos.”

The battle on the future of the Grand Prix appears to pit the Mayor vs. several council members that are calling into question the $150,000 subsidy the city pays Green Savoree, as well as all the infrastructure changes needed to stage the race, such as blocking off streets, using part of the downtown airport (which the city pays for) as part of the race course and more.

“I would assume if you guys weren’t making money, you wouldn’t do it anymore,” council member Karl Nurse told Savoree, according to SunCoastNews.com. “It’s only rational that we would say 12 years later, whereas we have subsidized this all along, we want to look at the terms of the deal.”

Council member Amy Foster inferred that perhaps the city has outgrown the Grand Prix, and that she wasn’t sure it was “the only thing” that made St. Petersburg relevant today.

“I do feel, frankly, that we’re a different city than when this race started,” she said.

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Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.