V8s: Baseball not a blow to Sydney 500 future

The start of the 2012 Sydney 500

The start of the 2012 Sydney 500

The future of the Sydney 500 has not been compromised by news that the NSW Government will  fund the staging of two historic Major League Baseball games next year, V8 Supercars insists.

In a major coup for baseball fans, it was announced that the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will play the first two games of the Major League Baseball season on March 22 and 23 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Although the exact cost has not been disclosed, the deal is expected to take up a sizeable portion of Sydney’s events funding.

The current five-year contract for the Sydney Olympic Park street race runs out at the conclusion of this year.

Speedcafe.com understands that V8 Supercars chief executive James Warburton is scheduled to meet with members of the O’Farrell government early next week.

“V8 Supercars are in formal discussions with the NSW Government and are very confident the Sydney 500 will continue on an extended contract post 2013,” a series spokesman said in response to the baseball announcement.

The government’s total spend on the Sydney race including the initial $15 million outlay for infrastructure is estimated to have been just under $30 million, and any extension to a contract would see the government stumping up $2.5 million annually.

The future of the event has been under question for some time, with reports circling mid last year that the 2013 Sydney 500 could have been moved to a mid-season date before falling off the calendar.

V8 Supercars itself promotes the race, suffering a direct financial loss with the broader goal of keeping itself prominently in the Sydney market.

Meanwhile, negotiations between V8 Supercars and the Queensland government will ramp up on Monday when Warburton is scheduled to meet over the future of the Townsville and Gold Coast races with their respective contracts expiring this year.

The Sydney 500 has already had a modification to its date after being forced to be pushed back a week to a new slot of December 6-8 to avoid clashing with the Stereosonic Music Festival after the two events had been double booked by the Olympic Park managers.

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