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Old 06-26-2002, 15:39   #1 (permalink)
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New date to boost V8 event is denied

From the Canberra Times

Fresh doubts over the future of the V8 Supercar street race were raised yesterday, with the National Capital Authority refusing to support it moving to a warmer time of year.

NCA chief executive Annabelle Pegrum also said it was not a given that the NCA would approve the use of the Parliamentary Triangle for next year's race.

Hours earlier, Labor backbencher Katy Gallagher called for the race contract to be made public. The Government is seeking legal advice over whether it can release the commercial-in-confidence contract.

Doubts over the race's future emerged earlier this month when crowd attendances were down by about 15 per cent on last year. This year's race, held on the June long weekend, is expected to make a $2 million loss.

Although the Government provided $4 million in funding in this week's Budget until the financial year 2003-04, Sports Minister Ted Quinlan has said a decision on the race's future would be made in a few weeks.

Ms Pegrum said the NCA had some serious concerns about the impact of the race on the parliamentary zone, its ability to change perceptions about Canberra and to attract visitors.

The NCA originally supported the race being held on the long weekend as it would increase visitor numbers at a quiet time of the year and help to change the perception of the ACT as a home to politicians.

Canberra Events and Tourism Corporation had not made a case for changing the timing of the event.

"At this point in time we would not support a move based on what we have seen," Ms Pegrum said.

While the race did not have to be held on the long weekend in June, the NCA would not support a change from the winter months as it would clash with other events and there was concern about further impacts on the parliamentary zone.

"We have made it clear this year that we want to have a serious look at what is happening," she said. "It is time to look at it as a whole."

Ms Pegrum said use of the Parliamentary Triangle for the race along with works approval was given each year. The NCA had not given a commitment for next year.

CETEC chief executive officer Ross MacDiarmid said race organisers AVESCO had requested a change of date after this year's race in a bid to increase ticket sales and attract greater publicity.

CETEC had yet to receive a formal response from the NCA about a date change.

Mr MacDiarmid said he was happy to sit down with the NCA to discuss what needed to be done for approval for the use of the Parliamentary Triangle for another time of the year.

There were still two years of a five-year contract to run and there would be substantial costs if the contract was terminated.

Evaluation of this year's race was not yet completed and a decision about the race should not be made until it was finalised.

Critic Jacqui Rees said the race would lose millions of ratepayers' money no matter what time of year it was held.

If it cost $2 million to cancel the race, the plug should be pulled immediately.
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