SEPTEMBER 6, 2005
Formula 1 and Athens
There are reports in Greece that Bernie Ecclestone and the Greek government are discussing plans to hold a race in Athens as early as 2007. This could be achieved because the city has a ready-made venue at the Helliniko Olympic Complex. Once the city's airport, Helliniko was turned into a venue for a number of sports during the 2004 Olympic Games and the site now features hockey, softball, baseball, basketball, canoeing and fencing facilities and stadia. The aim now is to turn the area into a large park, supporting sporting, cultural and recreational activities. Close inspection on the site reveals a very obvious opportunity to use a perimeter road as a racing circuit and the logical course of action would be for the facility to follow the model set by Melbourne with the race track being used once a year and then being returned to its normal parkland status. This would be quick, easy and cheap.
Helliniko is within easy reach of the new international airport and not far from the downtown area. There are good access roads to both the east and west of the area and plenty of space for run-off areas and other F1 facilities. There is already a go-kart track right next to the venue and so noise would not be a major problem. The plan is for subway and suburban light railways to be extended south from the city centre to the park and with the Saranic Gulf just across the road Helliniko could be a scenic venue.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is also the Culture Minister and the development of Helliniko will come under his portfolio.
A decision is expected to be made shortly.
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