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Baltimore Grand Prix organizers make $250K payment

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings- Blake speaking at the press conference announcing the citys 5 year 'Baltimore granc Prix' Race Agreement to boost local economy.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake speaking at the press conference announcing the city's 5 year race agreement

Baltimore Grand Prix organizers made a $250,000 payment to the Maryland Stadium Authority on Nov. 30 as part of the plan to pay for the $1.9 million project to convert parking lots at Camden Yards to a pit lane for the races.

An $800,000 payment into an escrow account was originally due on Oct. 1, but because construction was delayed due to a change in the design of pit row, Baltimore Racing Development reached a new agreement pushing back the payment. The company had previously made a payment of $150,000, and is required to deposit another $500,000 by the end of the year.

The Baltimore Grand Prix will be held over Labor Day weekend and will include an IndyCar race and an American Le Mans Series race that will be run on the streets around the Inner Harbor.

Jan Hardesty, spokeswoman for the stadium authority, said everything with the race organizers was “copacetic.”

“They are current with us, according to our agreement,” she said. “They’re on schedule with maintaining the payment [for the improvements to Camden Yards].”

Austin Crossley, spokesman for Baltimore Racing Development, said the delay due to the design change warranted altering the original agreement the organizers had with the stadium authority.

“The intent behind the agreement with [the stadium authority] was to put the money into escrow prior to construction starting,” he said. “Because the timeline was pushed back, there wasn’t an immediate need to put money in escrow at the scheduled date.”

The pit lane was originally going to be along Russell Street, but a design change moved it to the east side of Camden Yards, running parallel to the Warehouse at Oriole Park.

Crossley added that although Baltimore Racing Development is a startup company, it could have made the original payment on Oct. 1.

“It wasn’t as if we couldn’t make the payment,” Crossley said. “If MSA had said, ‘We want to stick to the contract,’ we would have made the payments as scheduled. They were agreeable to the change because the construction time had changed.”

Hardesty said the construction delay was a factor behind the authority’s decision to accept the new agreement.

“This is a startup operation, so we understand that there would have to be some adjustments that had to be made,” she said. “We [and the organizers] had to completely change where pit row was going to be, and when you redesign, that costs time and money.”

Crossley said that any business would have opted to delay payment if it faced a similar delay in construction.

“Like I said, we’re a startup business, so our business model calls for us to have some large revenue streams ahead with sponsorships and ticket sales,” he said. “Meanwhile we do have cash on hand for normal operations, but those funds can be limited. Like any business, if you don’t have to make an expense at any given time or if you have the opportunity to put the expense off to a later date, that’s always beneficial.”

According to a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Baltimore Racing Development has raised $1.53 million and has the option to raise $2.75 million.

Although they have not come to an agreement on a naming-rights sponsorship deal for the race, Crossley said he was confident the organizers would “be making an announcement in the very near future.”

Although the organizers haven’t decided on a date for when tickets for the race will go on sale to the general public, there will be a presale Wednesday for members of Baltimore Racing Development’s “Checkered Flag Club.” Fans can become members of the club by registering for free on the company’s website,