Cape Town - While hosting the Formula One will mean “hundreds of millions of rand” for the Western Cape economy, the funding for the event – which could cost between R300 million and R500m just to set up – should not become the ratepayers’ burden.
Alan Winde, the MEC for Economic Opportunities, said: “For big events, or economic generators, the private sector must come to the party. It is definitely not up to government to fund, although we will give support as we do with the jazz festival and the cycle tour. But we don’t need to put in mega-millions.”
But the Green Point Ratepayers and Residents Association has slammed the proposal, which has been revived after a 2013 bid was squashed by the City of Cape Town for being too costly, as an “April Fool’s joke”.
Igshaan Amlay, chief executive officer of Cape Town Grand Prix, set race enthusiasts’ hearts racing with the news that negotiations with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had taken place in the past eight weeks.
Unlike the false starts of previous bids, Amlay told the Cape Argus that a meeting has already been scheduled with the City of Cape Town to present its proposal to host the event as early as 2017.
But in a statement issued on Wednesday, the ratepayers association said: “One can see the attraction for F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. If he gets what he wants – and our track record after the Fifa World Cup shows that we really do give wealthy foreigners whatever they want – then he’ll have a jewel in his crown to rival Monaco.”
But the association said unlike the principality, Cape Town would have to pay for the privilege.
“And then for most of the year, the huge capital expenditure would lie unused until the next Formula One Grand Prix. As ever, the detail is concealed, the business plan is missing.”
While there has been widespread support for the renewed call to add Cape Town to the Formula One schedule in two years’ time, many have complained that the mega-event could be a financial drain on the city and ratepayers.
Many are still smarting about the Cape Town Stadium, which was built for the 2010 World Cup at a cost of R4.5 billion and is running at an annual loss of R40m.
But Winde said the Grand Prix would position the city globally as an events destination. He said it would also create job opportunities for engineers, artisans and other people wanting to work in the industry.
He acknowledged that this was not the first time the F1 dream has been mooted. “Hopefully this plan will put it together.”
But the Green Point Ratepayers and Residents Association says the plan will undo the years of work that went into transforming the Green Point Urban Park into an eco-area. The proposed route will include Beach Road and will see cars racing