Local council to get ‘final decision’ on Newcastle 500 contract

The 2023 Newcastle 500. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

The 2023 Newcastle 500. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

The City of Newcastle council will have the “final decision” on whether a new contract is signed to hold the Thrifty Newcastle 500, according to the local mayor.

The 2023 season-opener was the last event in the initial agreement between Supercars, City of Newcastle, and the state government’s Destination NSW tourism agency.

As yet, it is unknown if the Newcastle East Street Circuit will be back on the calendar next year, with council-commissioned consultation of residents and business owners ongoing until the end of this month, while attendees were surveyed during the weekend.

According to previous council communications, any new deal is “a decision of the NSW Government in the first instance as the consent authority for the race.”

However, council will also have to agree.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said via communications from council today, “The community have now experienced the Newcastle 500 four times, so we’re really keen to hear their thoughts on the Newcastle 500 and the possibility of extending its time in our city.

“At this time, no decision has been reached on the future of the race.

Crowds walk through the infield area. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

Crowds walk through the infield area at the 2023 Newcastle 5000. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

“If the NSW Government decides it wants to extend the Newcastle 500 for another five years then our Council will have the final decision on whether Newcastle continues as the host city.

“We’re committed to undertaking a robust, open process of consultation through consultants KPMG, who are using a range of online, in-person and telephone surveys before, during and after the race period to gather feedback from as wide a range of people as possible.

“This feedback will allow councillors to better understand the community’s views on issues around liveability, economic benefit or challenges, perceptions of the event and its impact on the visitor economy.”

The original contract was signed under a Liberal government, but Labor Opposition Leader Chris Minns recently expressed support for the Newcastle 500 in local media, amid the backdrop of a state election on March 25.

As previously reported, the 2023 event drew a three-day crowd of 167,197, a figure second only to the inaugural Newcastle 500 in 2017.

The event was part of the calendar in 2018 and 2019 but missed out entirely for the next three seasons due to COVID restrictions, with Mount Panorama taking its place in 2021.

The Repco Supercars Championship will race in NSW two more times this year, at July’s Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight and October’s Repco Bathurst 1000, while the state government is also a commercial partner of the Supercars-promoted Bathurst 12 Hour.

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