Earlier reports that Shanghai may axe its loss-making Formula One Grand Prix once its contract runs out in 2010 have now been negated by a spokesperson for one of the organisers. Qiu Weichang, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports, was previously reported to have said:
We’re doing the assessment. By next year we should be able to give you an answer,” he said in an interview late on Thursday. China’s biggest city spent 240 million dollars on the state-of-the-art Shanghai International Circuit and hosted its first Formula One race in 2004. But the event has been plagued by poor ticket sales and Qiu said its fate was in the balance.
We want to create a win-win situation, for our side and for Bernie (Ecclestone) and the F1 organisers as well,” he said. “If this is something we can do, and our cooperation is very happy and smooth, we will consider it. “Of course we would like at least to break even. But there are two factors, one is the assessment the other part is the win-win situation that we can create.
Now all that has been rubbished by an organiser who blames it all on a ‘misunderstanding in translation’ and says the Shanghai F1 will be extended past 2010:
Reported comments by the deputy director of the Shanghai sports ministry, Mr Qiu Weichang, that the city might give up its right to a five-year extension on the Grand Prix after 2010 were lost in translation, said Mr Leon Sun of organisers Juss Events.
‘I’ve spoken to Mr Qiu and he never said the Grand Prix was going to leave China,’ the general manager of event management at the municipality-owned company told Reuters in a telephone interview.
‘I think it’s probably some misunderstanding in translation. I would say it’s likely it will stay after 2010.’
Good news perhaps. But this doesn’t change the fact that ticket sales have been waaay below expectations and some serious work needs to be done:
The home of the Grand Prix is the stunning US$350 million (S$535 million) circuit on the outskirts of Shanghai, which can seat 200,000 fans but has rarely come anywhere close to accommodating that number.
Mr Sun said around 80,000 spectators had turned up on race-day last month, conceding that at least some of those people had received their tickets as a result of a ‘trade off with business partners.’
‘But we consider those sales because you move your costs down and you have more promotional materials,’ he said.