Although Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has expressed concern that agreements still have not been reached with several state agencies, organizers of next year’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Boston are confident those hurdles will be overcome soon.
“They’ve been in dialogue since day one,” Grand Prix spokesperson Jana Watt told MotorSportsTalk on Monday. “We support the Mayor 100 percent. It would behoove us, the quicker these agreements are signed, the better.
“But we also understand that from the agencies’ perspective that they understand everything they possibly can about the event, the usage and everything else and who’s paying for what. We need to nail all that down. We agree, absolutely.”
The race will be held on Sept. 4 on a street course that takes in a good portion of Boston’s riverfront area. It was confirmed as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule last week, having been first announced in May.
In a sense, organizers are patterning it after existing and very successful IndyCar street races in Long Beach, Calif., and St. Petersburg, Fla.
While Walsh and the city are on-board with plans, financial and other agreements still need to be worked out with agencies including the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the Massachusetts Convention Center and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Those groups control much of the property the planned street race is slated to be contested upon. The final version of the race track layout was only completed in early October.
“Obviously, there are a lot of agreements that have to come to fruition in order for the event to happen, but that’s not unexpected,” Watt said. “That’s part of a race or an event of this nature, that touches so many different agencies. So we’re in 100 percent support of what the Mayor has said. We need these agreements done, too.”
Walsh’s chief of operations, Patrick Brophy, emailed a letter to Jim Freudenberg, chief commercial officer of the Grand Prix of Boston, asking promoters to finalize all outstanding agreements within the next 14 days.
“It is expected that your team will finalize agreements with all interested parties within the next two (2) weeks,” Brophy wrote to Freudenberg. “Please be advised that the Mayor grows increasingly concerned with the progress (or lack thereof) of those discussions.”
In addition to the two-week deadline, Brophy asked that tickets for the race – which were slated to go on sale this month – will not be sold until all agreements are in place.
There is also concern about working closer to allay increasing concerns from community groups about the event, which is expected to generate at least $25 million to the city and state in the first year.
“As you are aware, a predicate to agreements and permit acquisition is the outcome of your discussions with local neighborhood, civic and business associations,” Brophy said in his email. “Mayor Walsh feels strongly that overall community ‘buy-in’ and timely resolution of all financial terms for this proposed event are paramount to his final approval.”
Watt said race organizers remain confident they can reach agreements soon.
“At the end of the day, the conversation didn’t start yesterday,” Watt said. “It’s been an ongoing dialogue and a healthy and good one, a very robust dialogue. It’s been open communication. There are certainly things to finalize.”