The proposed Grand Prix of Boston, which has a course of a over two-and-a-half miles around the South Boston Waterfront, has many questions remaining. These must be answered soon.
While we are entirely open to major spectator events coming to Boston and South Boston, South Boston Online has a negative opinion about IndyCar races and their presence at Grand Prix of Boston, which is actually located entirely within the confines of the South Boston Waterfront – and within those confines over the next five years.
This opinion is simply stated: We don’t think Grand Prix racing fits us – either our city or our neighborhood.
And that’s not because we are against major events. The city of Boston is the finish line of the most famous marathon in the world, which draws nearly 20,000 participants. South Boston hosts the entire Evacuation Day/St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which in good weather draws almost a million spectators. The round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race made its only North American stop on Fan Pier in 2009. Four years later, our waterfront hosted the Red Bull Cliff Divers – off the roof of the Institute of Contemporary Art. To say nothing about visits by the Tall Ships, 30 years of First Night, over a century of Polar Plunges, and Boston’s position as one of the world’s leading centers of sport. Can you believe that some critics call us “conservative,” “old-fashioned,” and “stuck in our ways?” Go figure.
The major reason for our unfavorable opinion about Grand Prix racing is because of all the remaining questions. It’s not due to “loss exposure,” which Grand Prix Boston has agreed to indemnify. And Grand Prix racing is certainly a spectacular event that many would enjoy.
But what about its effect on our last weekend of summer? Grand Prix construction and tear-down will take a month – mid-August to mid-September. Our waterfront is already congested every single workday.
What benefits will Boston and South Boston receive from Grand Prix? Be specific. What concrete, economic benefits have other cities like us gotten from Grand Prix events in the past?
Even if a case can be made that Grand Prix spectators could bring new tourism money into Boston, where would we put them? Labor Day is college move-in weekend around here, many parents come here to check things out, and our baseball, football and cultural seasons go into high gear come Labor Day (we hope).
Baltimore, at 625,000 people (about the size of Boston), canceled its five-year Grand Prix contract after its third year in 2013. Why? What happened? Details, please.
Why is a five-year agreement needed? How about a one-time “test run” over the 2016 Labor Day weekend?
A group of condo residents on D Street first spoke up against the Grand Prix. Later, they agreed to accept the races, but the terms of this agreement were kept secret. Why? Is the CIA involved?
In South Boston Online’s opinion, Grand Prix planning, licensing and permitting have fallen behind. The plans for the racetrack and roadway modifications won’t be finalized, submitted and approved at least until March. There are then only five months to go, and this is Boston, race fans. Can such a short time frame be made to work? And work safely?
Even if all of the above questions can be answered in a satisfactory way, what good will the Grand Prix be, specifically for those of us who reside in South Boston itself? South Boston Online believes there are better, more important ways to use our time and energies over the next five Labor Day weekends.