St. Pete City Council approves Race Week 2016 for the March 10-13 Grand Prix in downtown. Chris Ballestra, the city’s managing director of development coordination, touted the race as an “off the charts” opportunity for the city.
“There’s a staggering economic impact,” Ballestra said noting the $40 million impact and $5 million in direct impact. “We don’t have anything that compares.”
The event draws more than 1.5 million TV viewers across a number of stations worldwide. It will be broadcast locally on ABC. And the impressions associated with the Grand Prix trump other events because it’s directly tied to the Sunshine City.
Unlike baseball games and other events nationally or internationally televised, St. Petersburg is actually in the name – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Other events are logged under the vague “Tampa Bay” classification. And any resident who travels know that the question “where are you from” has to sometimes be answered with Tampa, rather than St. Pete because it’s more widely recognized by outsiders. The Grand Prix is one event that could help shatter that conception.
Ballestra also reminds race fans to turn their clocks ahead. This year’s “Spring forward” beginning of Daylight Savings time begins in the wee morning hours of Sunday, March 13. If folks miss that change, they’ll miss race times.
The race is expected to draw about 140,000 people between race fans, media and participants. Tickets for the event run $55 for an adult 3-day pass. Single day admission is also available. Ticket prices increase for grandstand seating and paddock passes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive tackle and four-time pro-bowler Gerald McCoy was named this year’s Grand Marshal.