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Pressure mounts for V8 Supercar decision

From The Canberra Times

The owner of the V8 Supercar series wants the ACT Government to make a decision on continuing the Canberra 400 V8 Supercar race within a month.

And while pressure mounts from the Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company for a decision, the debate on the true value of the race intensified yesterday.

AVESCO chairman Tony Cochrane said from Southport his organisation had to submit its full schedule to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and the Paris-based world motor racing controlling body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, by early August. This is necessary so it is in place by the first week of September for international television programming.

Mr Cochrane said the ACT Government had until the end of July to make a decision, ''but in a perfect world it would be the middle of July''.

This time-frame almost coincides with the 60 days sponsor Stegbar, which came in late on the 2002 race, has to commit itself to continuing its backing for another two years.

At about the same time, race organiser, the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation, expects to receive an economic benefit result from the Auditor-General's Department.

The result from last year, when 15,000 more spectators attended, was $11.2 million.

This is offset by growing costs, now estimated at $27 million over five years.

ACT Treasurer and Minister for Sport and Tourism Ted Quinlan indicated to The Canberra Times on Monday that the longer the Government had to make a decision, the more likely it would be a positive one.

"Pressure for a decision is going to come from AVESCO,'' Mr Quinlan said. "If they need an answer within a week or a month, we'll give them that, but the longer we have to decide, the more likely it is to be a positive decision ."

Meanwhile, the Canberra Accommodation Association urged the Government to ''move quickly to secure the future of the race and thus the confidence of sponsors''.

Association chairman Mark Sproat said, ''This is a great event, worth millions to the city, and most of that money stays in Canberra. What commentators like Jacqui Rees fail to understand is that 70 per cent of the accommodation in Canberra is owned and operated by small business based in Canberra.''

Australian Hotels' Association ACT general manager Nick Proud said the race accounted for more than 50 per cent of occupancy rates across the territory. He said that contrary to some media reports, many establishments had experienced a profitable weekend.

''The event was a significant boom for our members. During the weekend we saw the Supercars account for anywhere between 50 to 90 per cent of occupancy rates in our hotels. These are rooms that would not have been filled had it not been for the event.''

The Tourism Industry Council of the ACT and Region said it would provide the Government and CTEC with ''industries' perspectives'' of the race after surveying members and the wider industry.

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.

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