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The Baltimore Grand Prix – The bigger picture & why it’s good – Period.

By Monyka Berrocosa – Founder of MyCity4Her.com

This past weekend, Baltimore whether she liked it or not, had the eyes of over 143 countries on her. If you’re one of those who chose to ignore the fact, or were completely unaware that we had a MAJOR sporting event in our little home town (a little something called “The Baltimore Grand Prix“) and you don’t understand what all the fuss is about – I’m going to tell you.

First, there are only a handful of cities worldwide that can tout they have a “Grand Prix” event. Race car driving is an expensive, flashy and very media friendly sport. It provides eye candy – is glamorous and really gets people excited. That’s why it has such a huge following around the world, whatever the level. For that alone – this event is important as it puts the focus on Baltimore more meaningfully than any other sporting event (short of the Olympics) possibly could. Visibility brings business, business drives the economy – if you care about making things better in Baltimore, and you need to care about this event. PERIOD

Like every major sporting event there are egos, creative financing, and lots of cracks involved, if you think that’s impossible, you’re not realistic and you don’t understand the very nature of business. Nothing of this size or magnitude would physically be possible if everything was perfect. I prefer to see it as perfect in it’s imperfection and rise to the challenge of how can we do better next year than stand there and just critisise it. Were there issues? Heck ya. Were there some things that maybe should have been done differently, or better?  Of course, and no one in their right mind would disagree with you. However, this event is all about capitalizing on being “first to market” and making Baltimore a destination – it is not about writing the perfect business plan and it’s better to have it.

Whether F1 (like in my home town of Montreal, Canada) or a lower tier race event as this past event was for

Baltimore, the very fact we have this here AT ALL –  is a HUGE coup for our city and our Mayor. Whether you like her policies or not – she and her entire staff should be commended for having very broad shoulders and the VISION to make this happen.  If you’re too petty to focus on whatever glass half empty vision of this event you prefer to focus on – I feel sorry for you – nobody gets anywhere fast with that kind of attitude and our city doesn’t need it.

Before you blast me for being naive or not sufficiently interested in the details – let me drop some knowledge on you.

48 Million dollars of economic impact dollars for the region! Economic impact eventually trickles down to everyone one of the region’s citizens as any dollars coming into the region, is better than none – enough said.

This event created JOBS – LOTS OF THEM – You just cannot argue with the facts. Whether the jobs were permanent or temporary – this event means jobs were created. People had to be hired to put up barriers, sell food, and all the extras that come with such a sizeable event. Any community struggling with the challenging economy should embrace ANY positive job creation initiative and try to help it – for that alone – this was an amazing and very beneficial happening for our city and the region.

This event got people downtown and it got people excited – it just did. I spent the day on Saturday talking to all kinds of people at the race – people waiting in rest room lines (which were small), people serving up souvenirs and street food, people in the hospitality business, big business people and tiny entrepreneurs – I would say more than 80% of the feedback I got was positive.

The 20% that complained, well – they probably were just having sour grapes, and it’s too bad they feel better tearing this great happening for our City down, honestly I feel sorry for them. If only 1% had the chutzpah of JP Grant, and all the business, government, hospitality, racing industry and community people behind this amazing endeavor (they put a race on in 90 days people – the story is akin to building the arc if you consider all involved to make it happen) Baltimore would probably would all be WAY BETTER OFF FOR IT.

The organizers worked very hard to ensure the races ended earlier so people could actually partake in all the good that can be found downtown, and yes – you can’t put a race of this physical foot print down smack in the middle of a city, expect to draw 100’s of thousands of people and not expect to have traffic congestion. When you think about it – for the most part, it was not worse than any given day when there’s an Orioles or Ravens event.

Growing up my mother used to tell me “not telling the truth when someone has achieved something great or has something you wish you had doesn’t change the fact that it is” and so I’ve done my best in life to always when “faced with someone who’s done something great not to hesitate & celebrate them”. TRUE Dat! Mom and AMEN!

Folks, if what we truly want is this City to rise up and live to its potential duty to be able to do so, it needs ALL OF OUR HELP and ENCOURAGEMENT, to get there and work as a collective to find solutions to our problems not just complain about them.

To those who’d rather spend their time picking apart and criticizing or bad mouthing this grand effort and happening –  a part of me wants to tell you to move elsewhere. However, running two successful businesses and two foundations has made me someone who understands there are strength in numbers and anything worthwhile needs all the help it can get. With that in mind -I’d rather urge you to reconsider your view point, re-frame your views and more importantly your attitude towards this event. WE NEED YOUR INVOLVEMENT AND SUPPORT, we need everyone to step up, embrace the potential of this for our city and work together to make it happen.

Ask any municipality how the first few years of a major new initiative was,  and you’ll hear many parallel stories of what Baltimore in the past 24+ mos has experienced due to the Grand Prix event. Its much easier to complain and pick apart the design for a new barn than it is to focus on the positive, be solutions oriented and and be a driving force in making it happen. See below to understand what I mean…When you choose not to limit yourself – the possibilities are actually pretty amazing.

Baltimore  I’m extending a formal invitation – please step up and be a part of the good that’s happening to our region; it’s fun, exciting and good and if you try it – you just might enjoy it.

What this City needs to get to the next level and truly become the world class city it has the potential to be is for all of us to rise up and do our share to help get it there not be cantankerous, and negative about all our (or our City’s numerous) problems.  If you don’t like what’s going on, or don’t want to be part of it please don’t ruin it for the rest of us and just put or shut up, or step up and be part of the solution.

This past weekend I saw my children (ten year old son as well as my 12 & 13 year old step sons) get excited, be enthused and become children again. A happening that in our fast paced, rat raced (pun intended) age of high tech, commercialism, bad news, big business and that renders our kids jaded and bored was very much welcomed as a parent.  If only for that – I sincerely thank Mr. Grant & Baltimore City for making the Baltimore Grand Prix happen. Thank you again.

monyka
Author: monyka

5 COMMENTS

  1. Just to add a note to your writing , There were hundreds of volunteers who gave up their holiday weekend to help make the event a success. This is a city where a call for volunteers is made and many answer to help create an event to remember for all that attend.
    This was shown in the success of the recent Sailabration and some on the event of the Grand Prix. Maybe in time the Grand Prix will become one that many look forward to as exciting and a want to attend. The event is a sporting event and should be looked at as one of the many games our city has and enjoys.

  2. With all due respect, and you are due a lot, I’m surprised at the un-objective tone of your article. You make a few valid points regarding the effort made to stage such an event and certainly, anytime our children are gainfully engaged, it’s a good thing. That being said, let’s set aside some emotions and look at the reality of this event from a marketing and economic viewpoint. Afterall, we are business owners. First, let’s just say it; the Baltimore Grand Prix has a PR problem, stemming from an original poorly constructed business deal, exacerbated by a relentless media, and supported by a scorned small business community. The facts are this: in 2011, the race netted 47 million in spending (resident & non-residents). The cost of event was 70 million. With the modifiers that’s a whopping 119 million (Sports Economist, 2011). Add to that the scandal which followed, the devastating losses to Baltimore’s small business owners, and more bad press. What you’re left with is a tainted event.
    Granted the city had to scramble to find a new sponsor which would explain some of the attendance problems for this year’s event. However, sponsors require subsidies. Since losses from last year are inked and the new sponsor has publicly acknowledged huge anticipated losses for 2012 (Biz Journal, 2012), further subsidies would make this a very bad business deal for Baltimore’s taxpayers. I say all this to point out; it would be foolish to assume the role of protector of Baltimore’s virtue, when the actual economic impact is counterintuitive to a good business plan. Furthermore, watching these deals go down publicly only further supports the notion that Baltimore Officials don’t possess the acumen to construct a business deal of this magnitude. Also, let me iterate a point made in another article; historically temporary jobs don’t provide for an already strained economy. In fact, it has been proven that once temporary jobs are lost, the negative impact is greater than had the individual not assumed the job at all (North, 2010). It is wrong to assume that those who don’t support this particular event are somehow negative natives, hell-bent on disparaging the city’s reputation. Perhaps those who don’t support the event have the taxpayers’ best interest and the interest of the Baltimore economy foremost in their minds, prompting their avoidance. I’m not saying you’re completely wrong, but when it comes to this particular event think on this, “Just because your put syrup on something, don’t make it pancakes!” Your mission may be better suited if your prize is worthy of the effort.

    • Any attempt is better than nothing in my opinion – how many times did the guy who invented the light bulb epicly fail? How many dollars were poured into getting on the moon before man got there. I believe it’s always easy to pick apart initiatives than be part of the solution. I hear your thoughts and I thank you for sharing them – however as someone who understands that events of this SIZE don’t happen perfectly right away – I applaud the City and the organisers for taking the risk and doing it – versus choosing to ignore the opportunity…I’m a shameless optimist – but to be a visionary entrepreneur I think you have to be. You know what I always say Shereese – ‘Crazy gets $h*t” done…but thanks for sharing your thoughts and you make a lot of good points. Love the pancake comment – I’m using that in the future 🙂

  3. Thanks for the perspective! I’ve never really given this “controversy” much thought, except to say that it undoubtedly puts Baltimore on the map. And that’s a good thing!

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