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Baltimore's IndyCar Experience: Miles of Barbed Wire and Millions in Unpaid Bills

The race being pitched to Boston was originally the Baltimore Grand Prix, a failed IndyCar race which ran in downtown Baltimore over Labor Weekend from 2011 to 2013. Here's what writers in Baltimore had to say about their city's experience with the race.
But restaurants, bars and other businesses east of the racecourse reported disastrous sales last weekend... Many downtown office workers took the Friday of race weekend off or worked from home, leading to difficult-to-calculate losses of productivity and exacerbating the race's impact on nearby bars and restaurants.
It remains unclear just how good a thing that is for the city. Let's forget Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's hyperbole before the first race that the event would be a "game changer" for Baltimore. We'd settle for an event whose benefits for Baltimore clearly outweigh its costs and aggravations, and on that score, the jury is still out

The city looked like a prison because of the miles of fencing that ran along major traffic and pedestrian thoroughfares such as Pratt Street — topped with that ever-beautiful mangled wiring. But the race track also served to keep some people inside and others outside.

 

I can see why visitors — especially die-hard racing fans — might have loved seeing auto races pour through an urban track. But as a resident of Baltimore, I had no desire to be anywhere near it. Because of the logistical hurdles of getting downtown. And because it was just plain ugly.

If Boston is smart, they could stand to learn a few lessons from Baltimore's failed experiment with the annual street race. There are plenty of takeaways: Don’t cut down perfectly healthy trees. Get the community to buy in. Make sure the organizers pay the city what they're supposed to. And don’t be taken in by spreadsheets promising skyrocketing tourism and tax revenue–Baltimore actually lost money on the race.

The Grand Prix of Baltimore, a Labor Day weekend “tradition” that lasted only three years but caused oh so much strife in this city. Traffic jams, steel fences covering downtown’s sidewalks and trees that needed to be cut down to make way for grandstands drew the ire of the populace and businesses. The race itself was troubled from the start with organizers leaving behind a trail of debt and lots of ill will.
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