Grand Prix organizers make pitch to stay on Belle Isle
Published Friday, July 13, 2018 4:34PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 14, 2018 11:38AM EDT
The organizers of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix want to return to Belle Isle.
President Michael Montri made a formal presentation to the Belle Isle park advisory committee on Friday, as his group needs approvals from the Department of Natural Resources to continue racing at the state park.
"We're all in the room because we have a passion for Belle Isle,” said Montri. “I want to work with everybody to figure out how to improve this event and how to improve this park, going forward."
The race has been hosted on Belle Isle 19 times and Montri said it's the only venue they are considering.
In his proposal, Montri pitched a new, three year deal with a two year option. Organizers say they would pay the DNR $385,000 annually while committing to a shorter set up and tear down period.
Montri also highlighted the $13-million worth of improvements they have made to the park including the paddock, roads, and the refurbishment of the James Scott Memorial Fountain.
“The good that our event does far outweighs the challenges,” said Montri.
However, pressure is mounting for the DNR to say No.
Recent protests call into question the negative impacts the car race has on the environment as well as the limited public access to the park in the spring.
Dozens of Detroiters at the meeting spoke up, both for and against the race plan.
One resident said “you’re selling the jewel of Detroit to the highest bidder and sometimes money isn't everything."
Residents can provide more comments until the next meeting of the Belle Isle park advisory committee on August 2. However, the final decision rests solely with the Department of Natural Resources.