Mayor scraps Montreal's Formula E race
Published Monday, December 18, 2017 8:29AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:42AM EST
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has waved goodbye to the controversial Formula E car race.
Plante made the announcement Monday, saying the event will be cancelled after organizers failed to reach a compromise on the city’s terms.
“This is where we draw the line. The Formula E will not be back in Montreal under these conditions,” said Plante, who called the 2017 event a “financial fiasco.”
“Keeping the event in Montreal would cost taxpayers between $30 and $35 million,” Plante said. “My administration is willing to take risks and to invest money to promote Montreal, to attract international events, but not without a serious business case.”
The city was under contract to host the race for two more years or pay a penalty.
The financial numbers for the 2017 event were kept under wraps for months after the event was held.
Days before the municipal election in November it was revealed that 25,000 tickets were sold to the Formula E race, and another 20,000 were given away free.
Plante said the city would “show the greatest transparency by publishing the financial report.”
However despite repeated questioning, Plante would not say how much Montreal would pay as a penalty for cancelling the event.
The organization in charge of the E race, Montreal It’s Electric, is $9.5 million in debt, according to Plante.
For its part the race organizesr said they have a $6.65 million "structural deficit" that will have to be paid by the city of Montreal, with a total debt of $13.55 million.
To make the event possible in 2018, Montreal It’s Electric was asking to increase its line of credit from $10 million to $15 million and the direct contribution from the city would have increased from $ 1.75 to $2.25 million, said Plante.
The only way the event will return to the city, said the mayor, is if it can come up with a better business model.
The organization that runs Formula E worldwide had a simple response: "Ouch! That hurt!"
Formula E has also said the matter in now in the hands of their legal counsel.
The race became a hot-button issue during the municipal election campaign, some seeing it as a major part of former mayor Denis Coderre’s downfall.
The organizers of Montreal C'est Electrique said the race was a success, with 92 percent of racegoers enjoying the event, and it was seen by more than 36 million people.
The Montreal race also sold more tickets than its New York counterpart, and was seen by more people.
The new mayor said her party quickly began looking into the electric car race as soon as it took over the reins at city hall.
Plante also searched for a new location for the controversial electric car race as fulfillment of a campaign promise to remove it from downtown streets.
The 2017 E race drew much criticism from residents and store owners downtown who were frustrated by the closure of many already congested streets for weeks in the summer to accommodate the race.
During the election campaign and in recent weeks Plante repeatedly suggested the race be held at the Gilles Villeneuve racetrack in 2018, but that was never a possibility: construction on the track will begin on the Formula One track immediately following that race.
The city of Montreal will pay $30 million of the $48 million price tag to update the paddocks, the control tower, and other amenities as part of the more than $190 million the city is spending over a decade to keep the Formula One race in the city until 2029.