Disneyland Europe has a rival to be the next home of the French Grand Prix, despite the apparent wishes of Bernie Ecclestone, amongst others, to take the race to the House of Mouse.
Although four alternate bids are expected to materialise in the near future, the first rival to Disney has come from a suburb of France previously best-known for civil unrest nearly three years ago, Sarcelles.
Attracting the grand prix from 2010, when it will no longer be staged at the purpose-built and challenging Magny-Cours circuit in Nevers, will help to re-establish Sarcelles and nearby areas of the capital, Paris, and bring it out of the run-down state it currently finds itself in, according to those behind the bid, mayor Francois Pupponi and former F1 racer Jean-Pierre Beltoise.
They plan to oversee the construction of a new venue in the Valle d'Oise, complete with a technology park to attract business to the site, which will be constrained within the triangle formed by Sarcelles, Ecouen and Villiers-le-Bel. The 'Pole Vale de France' project is the first grand prix host candidate to reveal its hand, ahead even of anything concrete from Disney, which is also being supported by Arnaud Lagardère and Alain Prost, while other projects are expected from the areas of Bourget, Évry and Melun. Magny-Cours, however, is also keen to retain the race and has already unveiled details of the Magny-Cours 2 redevelopment plan.
"The data is simple," Pupponi told French sports 'paper l'Equipe
, "If they go down the easy route, to Marne-la-Vallée with Disney, they will always develop the same areas [of Paris]. We want to recover territories that the state has abandoned, with the will to develop problem areas where a lot of people are petitioners and waiting for someone to take care of them.
"This is a way of shouting at the state, to put the pressure on the government. Okay, maybe it is Disney that will have a Formula One circuit, and they will continue to have underprivileged areas as well. But then it will be necessary for them to explain how they can refuse to these funds [for the underprivileged areas].”
According to Pupponi, the ambitious project, which lies on the northern edge of Paris towards the Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, will be 'up to 100 per cent privately funded' and has the support of secretary of state for the development of Paris, Christian Blanc. Those behind the project, however, must guarantee €100m for the circuit and another €700m for the rest of the development