The Australian Grand Prix could have a new home in the coming years, if an audacious plan revealed by the New South Wales state government comes off.
Reports surfacing during the 2010 event claim that the city of Sydney is poised to offer an alternative to the race's established home in Melbourne, amid claims that the current organisers have become too accustomed to Formula One returning to its streets every year.
According to AAP
, initial costings and plans have already been drawn up to stage a night-time grand prix - a sticking point with the Melbourne race - from 2015, the first year after Albert Park's present contract expires. State premier Kristina Keneally and events minister Ian Macdonald revealed details of the project on Saturday, and claimed that they had already been in touch with F1 insiders who can make the event happen.
"I've already started to make contact with the F1 promoters, and we're already having a good look at the facilities and infrastructure that we have available for such an event," Macdonald told reporters in Sydney, "They can rest assured down in Melbourne that they're going to have a hard time, they haven't got this event to themselves.
"They're complacent, they're somewhat arrogant and we believe we can offer a night grand prix, which is something the promoters we know need to service their European viewership."
Neither Macdonald or Keneally have been to a grand prix, but insist that they will be able to bring the event - onen of the biggest on both the F1 and Australian sporting calendars - to New South Wales, with a site close to the former Olympic Park in the Homebush district of Sydney having apparently been earmarked as a potential venue. The area staged a successful V8 Supercar event at the end of 2009, and would continue Australia's record of hosting F1 on its streets, rather than a purpose-built facility.
"There are a few hurdles we will need to overcome to get the track here in Sydney, but I am confident we can work through these challenges," Macdonald continued, "F1 motorsport is a major international event and there is no doubt that the Telstra 500 V8 Supercar race in Sydney last year was a huge success. It demonstrates that there is strong community support for motorsport in Sydney and we would consider bidding for [the F1] event in the future."
Macdonald admitted that the cost of hosting the grand prix remained 'vague', but said that the sums were being done in a concerted bid to tempt the race away from its current home, while Keneally reasoned that while she wasn't 'going to sit here and put a dollar figure on it, these sorts of big events are big for the city, good for our economy and why we're in the game of major events'.
The cost of staging the race in Melbourne, however, has been a source of ammunition for opponents of the event, and the NSW state opposition has been outspoken of the government's plan, calling it 'uncontemplated' and estimating that it could cost as much as $100m to secure the rights to the event for just three years, and then a further $30m a year to host it.