01/30 09:09 CST Brazilian officials say canceled IndyCar race was too costly
Brazilian officials say canceled IndyCar race was too costly
By TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer
SAO PAULO (AP) --- The IndyCar Series opener scheduled for March in Brazil was
canceled after public prosecutors warned it would cost the local government too
much and waste public funds, organizers said on Friday.
The government agency said prosecutors recommended the cancellation because the
race was "not in the best interest of society," and there was a "clear
inversion in the priorities for public spending."
The government agency in charge of the event in the Brazilian capital of
Brasilia said prosecutors also pointed to problems in the contracts signed by
the previous administration and promoters of the March 8 race at the Nelson
Piquet Autodromo, which had already sold two-thirds of the tickets.
The contracts required spending nearly $100 million just to renovate the track,
the agency said.
The federal district is in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and the
government has been unable to pay salaries to many public workers. The newly
elected governor had already relinquished the right to host the 2019
Universiade, a multi-sport event involving thousands of university students
from around the world. A MotoGP race originally scheduled for this year also
had to be canceled.
"While all efforts are underway to organize an event not essential to the
society of the federal district, public employees are not getting paid," public
prosecutors wrote in their recommendation to cancel the race.
Brasilia was one of the 12 World Cup host cities last year, and its stadium,
the Estadio Nacional, was deemed the most expensive of those built or renovated
for the football tournament.
IndyCar said on Thursday it was caught by surprise by the cancellation. It
called the announcement a "great disappointment," but said it was "economically
protected from such action."
The government agency admitted there was a $27 million fine for a breach of
contract, but said it was valid only for the contract between IndyCar and the
Brazilian network promoting the race, Band TV.
The network released a brief statement lamenting the "hasty" cancellation, and
said it would begin advising fans how to reimburse their tickets. Prices
started at about $27.
The agency claimed the decision was not unilateral, and that it tried to
re-work the contracts to make sure the race went ahead.
Band was responsible for the series' return to Brazil in 2010, when it raced on
a street circuit in Sao Paulo for four consecutive years. The network was not
able to secure the event in 2014 because of financial problems, but it reached
a partnership with the previous government in Brasilia to organize the race
The contract with Brasilia runs to 2019. Organizers said work at the track was
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni