F1 boss wants $26 mln for İstanbul lap or no deal
A view of İstanbul Park which has hosted Formula One races since 2004. The Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone demands $26 million of annual rent for the race track, threatening to stop organizing the races in İstanbul otherwise. Ecclestone met with ministers Özak and Şimşek on this issue last Saturday. Formula One’s commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, who won all operating rights for İstanbul Park for seven years in 2004 and who had guaranteed to hold Formula One races there during this period, wants to double the annual rent of the race track, threatening to stop organizing the races in İstanbul otherwise.
The current contract outlines rent of $13.5 million annually through 2011.
Today’s Zaman has learned that Ecclestone spoke with State Minister for Sports Faruk Nafiz Özak and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek last Saturday, during the İstanbul Grand Prix.
Ecclestone stayed firm on his demand for $26 million per year and said: “I leave it up to you. India and Arab countries are all ready to take your place.” Özak’s response was to say: “This is İstanbul, one of the world’s most beautiful places. So is this racecourse.”
Youth and Sports Director (GSGM) Yunus Akgül, who was present at the meeting, said Ecclestone was adamant in his demand. After these talks, both sides understand the positions of all involved, and the process will be concluded within two months, Akgül noted to Today’s Zaman. “Turkey is definitely fond of hosting these races, and all this haggling is taking place for this. However, paying $26 million for this organization every year is a big burden. The figure is very high. We’ve approached the deal from a different angle. Our last offer was that he relinquish the operating rights to İstanbul Park, and we guaranteed that the track would be reserved for the organization for three weeks before and during the races. In return, we wanted him to come up with a new offer,” Akgül said. He admitted that if Ecclestone insists on a high annual fee for the races, Turkey would have to end its Formula One adventure.
GSGM has officially asked the İstanbul Chamber of Trade (İTO), the owner of İstanbul Park, for permission to take over the operating rights of the course, he stated.
The İstanbul Park course is idle for almost the entire year, except for a few small-scale events, and has been ever since it was constructed, Akgül noted, because the operating company asked for extremely high fees for use of the course. “If GSGM undertakes the operation of the course, it will open it up for events by the automobile and motorcycle federations, along with a number of auto races including the MotoGP.”
İstanbul Park’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2002 by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Construction was completed in two years with a total cost of over $260 million. It was leased to Ecclestone for a fee of $3 million per year.
05 June 2010, Saturday
MEMDUH TAŞLICALI İSTANBUL
So Ecclestone is not very good at making money from the race track during the year. We have already heard from members here that he asks impossible prices for track days. This is confirmed by the article.
His idea of improving the business is simply having the tax payer stomp up the hosting fee which he wants to jack up from 13.5 to 26 mil $. It appears that the Turkish youth and sports minister thinks a different and local track operator from his organization can do much better over the year and can bring in higher revenues from other races and events. It appears that the prices are simply too high for the local motor sport economy.
It is no surprise that Ecclestone wants more money as most new races nowadays are bringing in more money. This hasn't been an issue so far because the initial contract was for 7 years and started with fairly low prices. The problem is that little development of the racing scene has taken place considering the Turks had this magnificent facility. They screwed up politically in the first place with the Cyprus demonstration and handed the whole business over to Bernie who apparently did nothing to get a proper marketing going.
I'm a big fan of the race. It has the second best elevation changes of all tracks of the current F1 season. In this it is only second to Spa. Beside the much known turn eight is also features a cork screw very similar to the famous one in Laguna Seca and a dip which is similar to Eau Rouge. I'm not bothered that they have only few viewers but that is going to change relatively soon. They are building a huge tunnel under the Bosporus to connect both parts of the city and that should put the track in better reach from the European side of the city.
So if the Turkish minister of youth and sport can run the track more effective and Bernie makes some concessions like risk sharing the race could be saved. I hope it will happen and we will see F1 go back in 2012 and beyond.