Local council finds ‘overwhelming support’ for Newcastle 500

The 2017 Newcastle 500

The 2017 Newcastle 500

Newcastle’s Lord Mayor claims there is “overwhelming support” for the Thrifty Newcastle 500 Supercars event as a decision looms on whether there will be a new contract.

Next month’s season-opener will be the Repco Supercars Championship’s fourth ever event in the Hunter Valley and the last of the inaugural deal, originally for five years but delayed in its fulfilment by COVID restrictions which also saw the 2021 campaign instead begin at Mount Panorama.

A decision on a second contract for the event will only be made after surveys of residents, business owners, and event attendees are conducted, City of Newcastle announced last December.

Supercars has seemingly proven unpopular with locals in the city’s East End, where the circuit is located, but signs for the future of the Newcastle 500 are positive thus far according to Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who suggested a new agreement would be another five-year term.

“[Council is] doing some really deep community consultation with residents and businesses on the impacts of the race, but also the benefits of the race,” said Cr Nelmes as build of the Newcastle East Street Circuit began for 2023.

“What we have found is, as we’ve surveyed throughout the LGA, just of Newcastle, overwhelming support for the event, as well as very positive sentiment in general, and there are a small amount of people that are affected.

“I guess our path forward is to make sure the effects and the concerns of those businesses and residents aren’t too much to deal with in terms of having an event back here for the following five years of the agreement.”

Supercars’ Newcastle Community Manager Chris Yates, Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin (left to right)

She added, “Depending on that engagement, as well as the economic data that we receive back again, that will go into Council’s decision of whether the contract extension for five years will take place.”

The event is said to have a positive economic impact on the City of Newcastle, let alone neighbouring local government areas such as Lake Macquarie which make up Greater Newcastle.

“We have done our own economic analysis over the years that we actually could host the race and that showed, just for our LGA alone, a $36.2 million economic injection into the local economy, which is a signal that this is one of [Newcastle’s] largest events measured by that scale, and also obviously by visitation,” claimed Cr Nelmes.

Practice in Newcastle begins on March 10 and hence the commencement of construction represents a build period this time around of just over five weeks (37 days, to be precise), which is shorter than in previous years.

The contract is in fact a tri-party agreement between Supercars, City of Newcastle, and Destination NSW, with the state government being the primary decision-maker for the event given it is the consent authority and main funding partner.

Notably, the next New South Wales state election is due on March 25, a fortnight after the 2023 Newcastle 500, at which time a change in government is likely.

Pre-season Supercars activity is set to continue next week with more Gen3 shakedowns from Tuesday, February 7 at Queensland Raceway.

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