On The Streets Where You Live

Our View: Indy Racing 'round The Harbor Could Be A Winner - If Price Is Right

August 20, 2009

Baltimore might be the pick of Indy Racing League, but is Baltimore ready to embrace Indianapolis 500 cars zooming down city streets at 180 miles per hour? Baltimore Racing Development's announcement Monday that the IRL is ready to roll through Baltimore in 2011 is great news, but only if organizers can make their case that the benefits outweigh the headaches.

Small wonder that Mayor Sheila Dixon was left waving the yellow caution flag. "The city must carefully consider the costs of this event ... against the competing economic interests," the mayor's statement explained.

Running Indy cars around the Inner Harbor would no doubt disrupt downtown traffic and create a substantial (and noisy) ruckus in the eyes of some. It also costs money to properly pave the streets involved (although some repaving is already planned for the area). But the benefits are considerable: up to $100 million in spending over three days. That's more than the Preakness-related events generate each year.

Just as valuable is the excitement and positive publicity this could generate for a city that's endured its share of negative notices, particularly for its poverty and crime. Long Beach, Calif., and other cities have seen the benefits of hosting such televised street races. Hopefully, Baltimore will too in a couple of years.

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