Soon the roar of Grand Prix racing will fill the streets of Baltimore over Labor Day weekend under the auspices of the IZOD IndyCar series.  In total, there are 19 scheduled races this year of which five are held on the streets of their host city rather than a speedway.  While there has been some controversy surrounding this event, it is my opinion that this event will provide a boost to the City’s name and bottom line. 

Ladies and Gentlemen Start Your Engines

As it stands, Baltimore City is already becoming a destination choice among many visitors.  Events such as the Baltimore Running Festival, various soccer and lacrosse matches and Artscape provide diverse activities for visitors.  In addition, with the presence of the Orioles, Ravens, the Hippodrome Theater and various museums, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy Baltimore’s cultural, recreational and entertainment offerings.

According to the Economic Impact Report published by Baltimore Racing Development, LLC, Baltimore’s Grand Prix and related events are slated to bring over 100,000 visitors to the City.  Visitors attending the event are expected to generate over $70 million in spending on things such as hotel rooms, food and beverage, transportation and other entertainment. In addition, the City is expected to gain $2.2 million dollars in tax revenues.

Photo credit: Baltimore Business Journal

While the three day event has the potential to bring in a lot of new visitors to the area for the event, the real impact will be in terms of the marketing and outreach for the City of Baltimore. For example, races will be broadcast to a national and international audience.  The media exposure and branding of the City as a Grand Prix destination will have long-lasting and reverberating effects.   In a report regarding the San Jose Grand Prix, the estimated value of media exposure for that city was valued at $4.6 million.  Baltimore’s Grand Prix is expected to have a larger audience and races will get TV coverage on major networks such as ABC and ESPN.  In addition to the race coverage, a documentary based on the behind-the-scenes efforts to put on the race will be broadcast on September 11th.

If Baltimore is lucky, the city’s experience will mirror the success of the Long Beach Grand Prix.  The Long Beach event, which began as a small Formula 5000 street race, recently celebrated its 38th straight year and brings more than 200,000 spectators to the area.  I believe Baltimore has the ability to succeed in this venture.  Some of the City’s best landmarks and spectacular views—including the inner harbor and Camden Yards—will be front and center during the whole event.  I would be surprised if that wasn’t enough to put Baltimore on many people’s radar.