Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium has signed a landmark five year deal to host the Speedway Grand Prix World Championship, which will come into effect from 2015.
The first Speedway Grand Prix will be held in Melbourne’s Docklands on October 24 next year. It will be the season closer.
It represents a return to Australia for just the second time in the Speedway Grand Prix era. Previously an SGP was held in Sydney at the Olympic Stadium in 2002 won by current World Championship leader, Greg Hancock.
“Australia is one of the true superpowers of world speedway and it has been a long-term goal of ours to take the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series back Down Under,” said BSI Speedway Managing Director, Paul Bellamy.
“The SGP series has visited some fabulous venues across the globe and Etihad Stadium is up there with the very, very best of them.
“Melbourne lives and breathes motor sport and sport in general. We hope Melburnians, Victorians and fans from all over Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world embrace the event next year.”
Several Australian Speedway dignitaries were on hand for the announcement including Australia’s three-times World Champion, Jason Crump and former World number two, Leigh Adams. Both were announced this morning as ‘Speedway Ambassadors’ to the Australian Speedway Grand Prix event.
The Speedway Grand Prix circus has started its past three seasons in New Zealand at Springs Speedway under the auspices of Springs promoter, Bill Buckley.
Despite clashing with the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars race in Queensland, organisers will be aiming to capitalise on the strong international tourism trade that will be in Melbourne at the time, coming just one week after the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.
The advantages of holding the event at Etihad include a roof, ensuring that weather won’t be a factor on the dirt-based racetrack.
Ticket sales will get underway tomorrow morning at 9am Melbourne-time via www.ticketmaster.com.au with adult prices starting at $49 and children’s tickets from $24.50.
Since the sport has been picked up by Fox Sports in Australia and the success of 2012 World Champion, Chris Holder, it has gained in popularity right around the country.
The Melbourne announcement is a huge boost for Holder and fellow Aussie, Troy Batchelor heading into the final Speedway Grand Prix of the season this weekend in Torun, Poland. Holder sits sixth on the Championship table after a troubled season, whilst Batchelor is currently two points outside the top eight automatic qualification zone.
Last month, Newcastle flyer, Jason Doyle qualified to join Holder in the full World Championship next year through the Grand Prix Challenge.
Despite starting in the Hunter Valley in the early 1900s, the sport of speedway has grown to become a global powerhouse – with Sunday league matches in Poland the most popular sport in that country, outrating television and attendances of football.