Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Finish Line (The Other Big Race in San Jose Part II)

The results are in from the Grand Prix and Sebastien Bourdais was crowned as the winner of Sunday’s main event. And while the smoke and hordes of people in attendance have cleared, the mayoral candidate who benefited most from the Grand Prix this year remains up in the air. Grand Prix organizer Dale Jantzen reported over 155,000 attendees during the three-day race, an increase from last year’s turnout despite the dark cloud hovering over the race this year. So it would appear that the Grand Prix was a success considering the circumstances.

However, despite the increase in attendance and the improved racing conditions, many remain skeptical about the Grand Prix in San Jose. Jantzen maintains his optimism regarding the economic impact of the race, but the Grand Prix is still in the red looking to make up the losses next year. Some spectators also had complaints about phantom bleachers that were never built. Any fans with tickets to the silver section 4D were surprised to find out that their seats didn’t exist. These fans were offered an upgrade to the gold section bleachers, but some fans remained unappeased and demanded their money back more adamantly than fans after an Ashlee Simpson concert.

Though some fans had a rough time at the race, when we look at the big picture, the Grand Prix made major improvements this year. The construction team created three bridges along the track to allow spectators to move freely from one side of the track to the other without the fear of a hit and run and 170 mph. Race organizers also spread out the bleachers to avoid congestion along busy streets in an effort to make the experience more appealing to spectators. While most of the kinks of the race were worked out during the Grand Prix’s sophomore year in San Jose, local businesses didn’t receive the boost they were expecting. Hotels lining the track were completely booked during the weekend, but the bars and restaurants at these hotels reported a drop in their sales. Other downtown restaurants also reported a drop in on-site sales, but an increase in race-related catering during the weekend.

Perhaps the Grand Prix isn’t quite as “grand” as it claims to be. Though great improvements have been made from the Grand Prix’s first year in San Jose, complaints have still surfaced. While the checkered flag defines a clear winner for the drivers, it doesn’t do much to help us find our mayoral winner. Like every news station in the 2000 election, maybe we called the winner of this Grand Prix controversy prematurely. Reed gets to stick to his guns that the Grand Prix is still in the red, and Chavez gets to boast the attendance numbers and money that came into the city. I guess it’s time we accept the Grand Prix for what it is, a Mediocre Prix. And who knows, maybe in a couple years they will work everything out and we can once again be home to the Grand Prix.

-SJ Rookie


At 4:50 PM, Anonymous FenceHopper1 said...

Cindy for Mayor!

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Ron Gonzalez's Evil Step-Son said... actually went to the event? I don't know if I could call that a "Mediocre Prix"...

Reports out of the University of Georgia indicated that the '96 Olympics produced "muted, short-term economic benefits". However, (1) the intangible benefits and (2) the long-term economic benefits would probably persuade most Georgians into agreeing that the Games were a VERY good thing.

Now, the Grand Prix doesn't exactly rise to the level of an Olympiad. (In my opinion, it doesn't even come CLOSE!) But I was there this weekend...and the city was PACKED! I'm proud of my city and I get sick and tired of it playing second fiddle to the rest of the Bay Area. Events like this are great for the city. Maybe one day when you look up SJ in a travel guide it'll list more than the Winchester Mystery House and the Old Spaghetti Factory?

I don't know what the verdict is on the economic benefits of the Grand Prix. But I saw hotel rooms packed with people trying to get a better view, I paid $4.00 for a water, and I saw neighbors charging for parking in their backyards.

Business is about branding. This weekend put SJ more on the map than anything outside of the Sharks that I can think of in the last 5 years!

...just my two cents

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who attended the Grand Prix for the city? Is this true??!!

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous AnonyMouse said...

What!? Are you kidding? Politicians getting perks and priority seating??????????



Post a Comment

<< Home