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Buddh: '4 years to break even'

2011-11-01 10:52

STATE OF THE ART: Drivers make their way around the Buddh circuit, which hosted the inaugural Indian F1 GP on Sunday.

Talek Harris

NOIDA, India - Indian F1 GP organisers hope to break even within four years but are talking to MotoGP and other race series representatives in a bid to make up for their limited profits from Formula 1.

The private Jaypee infrastructure group revealed the plans as other GP organisers struggle, including South Korea which is trying to renegotiate its F1 contract only a year after its debut.

Jaypee spent $200-million building the Buddh F1 circuit near New Delhi and another $200-million on their F1 licence fee, spokesman Askari Zaidi told AFP. He said the F1 profits were confined largely to ticket sales as revenues from sponsorship and broadcast rights were controlled by the sport.

However, the company will also profit from building and selling houses and commercial space on a large new development around the track, known as Jaypee Greens Sports City.


Zaidi said: "In F1 there's not much scope to make money, barring the sale of tickets, but there are other races which we're planning to hold, such as MotoGP. Some other race organisations have contacted us. Whatever we spend we hope to recover in four years."

Zaidi said Jaypee's agreement with the Indian government was to fill 35 percent of the 1000ha site near New Delhi with sports facilities, including a 100 000-seat cricket stadium, a golf course and a shooting range.

"The rest we can develop and sell as commercial space or housing. That's how we intend to recover the money," he said.

Several GP organisers have wrestled with the dilemma of F1, known to boost prestige but at a high cost. China and Australia are among those who have baulked at the outlay while Singapore has yet to sign a new contract and France and Turkey have dropped off the race calendar.


Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs in India (FMSCI), said Jaypee would not have the same problem. "The organisers and promoters have taken it as an investment," Chandhok said. "They're a very large infrastructure company, they build apartments, they build hydro power, they build golf courses. They're using it as a marketing tool. So the event loss is of no consequence.

"It's a very good business model. They're not looking at the event to make money, because everyone knows no F1 event makes money."

Chandhok, who was a key figure behind the project, said other grands prix had run into trouble because they were publicly funded. "Those are government-run. The ups and downs of the governments and the changes of political scene will not affect us. This is private. We will not suffer the consequences or vagaries of political will," Chandhok said.


Organisers were forced to slash ticket prices to attract spectators to the purpose-built circuit, which is about 40km from New Delhi. The 120 000-capacity venue was less than half-full for Saturday's qualifiers and 95 000 fans - 79% of maximum - attended on Sunday's race.

Zaidi said Jaypee would open talks with MotoGP, which has 18 stops on its 2012 calendar, and was "quite hopeful that this thing will come through".

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