Sydney 500's future under spotlight again
New South Wales Greens MP John Kaye has renewed calls for the NSW state government to move the Sydney Telstra 500 away from the Sydney Olympic Park precinct, as the future of the event comes under further examination.
Kaye is calling for the event to be moved to the recently redeveloped Eastern Creek; pushing the Liberal government to consider the switch with a motion he will introduce into the Senate in the new year.
"The NSW Auditor-General's 2010 report hammered the lack of value for money and Labor's flawed negotiations tactics involved in the V8s Supercars contract," he says.
"In February I will be taking these concerns to the NSW Upper House and calling on the O'Farrell government to begin negotiating for the race to be moved back to Eastern Creek International Raceway.
"If the government does not have the gumption to cancel the Sydney Olympic Park event and move it back to Eastern Creek International Raceway, at the very least he should commission a new independent report into Labor's V8s mess."
The current contract to run the event at the Olympic precinct runs out at the conclusion of 2013. And there is mounting speculation that the current Liberal government is unwilling to increase its investment into the event, leaving V8 Supercars to carry the majority of the bill, let alone support the event at all.
Despite another massive promotion push from V8 Supercars in the Sydney market, the 2011 Sydney Telstra 500 weekend crowd of 172,267 was down on last season's 180,000 and the first year's 184,000.
According to Kaye, government expenditure at Sydney Olympic Park is unjustified given that Eastern Creek could host an event within western Sydney with fewer disruptions.
"While the exact financial costs of the setup and takedown of the event infrastructure is unknown, local residents are paying the price in terms of loss of amenity, excessive traffic and noise," he says.
"Every year they have to endure three months of disruption for a three-day event.
"Commuters and local businesses are affected as bus routes are diverted and road closures and detours cause traffic chaos for cars and bikes. Both residents and visitors to Sydney Olympic Park suffer as concrete pillars and blocks are set up around the park.
"The three months of setting up and taking down of infrastructure for the Sydney Olympic Park V8s event is not only an expensive nuisance. It is also unnecessary since NSW already has a permanent track at Eastern Creek International Raceway."
Eastern Creek is the only permanent race circuit left in Sydney and the only FIA Category Two level circuit in Australia; recently undergoing $9 million worth of circuit upgrades, with $7 million of the funding coming from the NSW government.