Jersey City's Liberty State Park has confirmed that it is in the running to stage the first United States Grand Prix since 2007, although the plans already face opposition from environmental campaigners.
F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has made no secret of his desire to return the sport to the USA, and has repeatedly tabbed New York City - or its famous skyline - as the backdrop to any future venue. Until now, however, no details of prospective sites have been forthcoming, despite Ecclestone claiming in China to have 'three or four' possibilities under discussion.
Now it has emerged that Liberty State Park, which sits a mile from lower Manhattan and in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, is in pole position to stage the return of F1 to America, with a night race apparently under consideration to make most use of the famous skyline visible across the Hudson River. The plans, however, have attracted opposition from 'green' activists, and mayor Jerramiah Healy has issued a statement admitting that F1 is still a long way off.
"This was a response to an overture made by Formula One, and Jersey City is one of several cities [F1] are pursuing," he claimed, "There have been a few, preliminary, conversations and this is very much in the exploratory phase. However, this may not
be something that is in the best interest of Jersey City or Liberty State Park."
The proposal apparently in front of Ecclestone details a 3.6-mile layout entirely within the confines of the 1200-acre Liberty State Park, which already plays host to the increasingly popular Red Bull Air Race series.
"With the incredible backdrop of the New York City skyline, selecting Jersey City for the 2012 Grand Prix Auto Race Circuit will not only boost ticket sales as the Grand Prix returns to the United States, but will [provide] striking television footage," a document from Destination Jersey City confirms, "To maximise the dramatic effect, Jersey City could possibly follow in Singapore's footsteps by holding the finals [sic
] at night."
The proposal also suggests Liberty State Park would 'provide the least impact to city functions and the greatest possible space to accommodate ticket holders', but opposition to the plans claims that attracting F1 is little more than 'a marketing tool to bring ... foot traffic and revenue to local businesses' that would result in pressure to stage regular racing, outside of F1, on the circuit.
"You'd end up having the name changed from Liberty State Park to Liberty Race Track," Friends of Liberty State Park president Sam Pesin told Jersey Journal
, adding that staging a grand prix conflicted with recently-revealed plans for a $32m ecological restoration project that would create a 40-acre salt marsh, over 100 acres of forest and a network of nature trails.
“They even have part of the race track going in what is part of the natural area,” Pesin continued, "It just shows total ignorance of the plans that are already well established.”