OCTOBER 27, 2006
Livingstone slams the door on F1
London's controversial mayor Ken Livingstone has given a clear signal about the city's discussions regarding the hosting of a Formula 1 race. In July 2004 there was a successful F1 demonstration on the streets of the West End with around 200,000 people watching the cars in action - at very reduced speeds. There was talk of a race track in Hyde Park but Livingstone says that F1 is simply not feasible from a financial point of view. Speaking at the announcement that London will be included on the Tour de France route next year, Livingstone said that a Grand Prix would cost London in the region of $56m a year.
"If I dipped into the council-tax-payers' pockets to come up with £30m for a Grand Prix I don't think I would be able to walk safely down the streets," Livingstone said.
The Tour de France, which will start in London on July 7 with a stage to Canterbury in Kent. This will cost the city $2.8m and a study by the Transport for London organisation reckons that it will generate $216m of benefits, taking into account the 4500-strong entourage and a 95% occupancy rate for hotel beds in the capital plus a conservative estimate of two million fans who will turn up for the two days of racing.
"I wish I could spend £1.5m every weekend in order to get £115m in tourist revenue," Livingstone said. "All I'm thinking of is how soon we can persuade them to come back. We are discussing how soon we can bid again without looking greedy."
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