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Geelong throws hat into F1 ring

The row over the future of the Australian Grand Prix has led to suggestions that it move further down the Victorian coast, with influential individuals claiming that Geelong could be an ideal replacement for Albert Park.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne has led to suggestions that the event, if it survives at all, could relocate away from Albert Park.

According to stories in the local press, Geelong is being encouraged to bid for the grand prix should the debate over whether it is too costly to continue in its current location. Geelong is 75km south-west of the state capital, and boasts a waterfront that Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker and colleague Andrew Westacott are apparently eyeing as an alternative to Albert Park.

"Geelong is a good market for tickets and we have always treated it with respect," Walker told the Geelong Advertiser, "If we had it at Avalon, it would promote the tree tops of rural land, while having it in Geelong would showcase the rest of the city - and Melbourne - to the rest of the world."

Walker and Westacott are reported to have challenged Geelong mayor John Mitchell to start lobbying for the event, with the councillor promising to make the discussions a priority at future local government meetings.

'Paparazzo' Darryn Lyons has apparently held talks with the AGPC that led to initial consideration of Geelong as a future F1 venue and, as an ambassador for the city, insisted that the waterfront would be an ideal location.

"I will fight tooth and nail to get it here at every possible opportunity," he said, "If Melbourne is prepared to throw away the GP, why can't we build infrastructure to have it down here?"

Mitchell, too, appeared confident that Geelong could put on a show to rival previous Australian grands prix, and repeated his vow to bring the matter to the political agenda.

"We will put our hand up and, if [Melbourne mayor] Robert Doyle doesn't want it, we will take it," he stated, "A grand prix in Geelong sounds good to me and what a great event it would be if came off. We believe major events are a big part of our business and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't start the discussions now and see where it takes us. There is no doubt we are good at running major events."

Doyle lies behind the current uncertainty, having claimed publicly that grand prix was failing to live up to its billing and costing the city of Melbourne millions of dollars that could be better used elsewhere [see story here]. And, while F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has called Doyle's bluff over the matter, suggesting that F1 is popular enough not to need an Australian GP [see story here], the local government insists that it remains committed to the event [see story here].




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Kozeyekan

February 05, 2011 7:37 AM

Actually, it could work. The problem with F1 at Albert Park is that it was too successful. The increased facilities led to an increase in housing price, which led to self important muppets moving in and trying to get rid of the project that turned the area into what it is today. Moving it to Geelong would save loads of money. It'd also make Geelong a destination city, and with the amount of motorsport interest (Thanks to the Ford factory) there'd be a lot of local turnout to match the other visitors. Without F1, Albert park will tank and become just another run down suburb that used to be important.



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