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NOVEMBER 7, 2007

Australian GP to move to Flemington?

Australia's Channel Nine is reporting that there are discussions going on to move the Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park in Melbourne to the Flemington Racecourse in the north-west of the city. This is the home of the Melbourne Cup horse race and has a crowd capacity of around 120,000 people. The site is smaller than Albert Park (330 acres compared to 550) but there is still room for a circuit to be built around the racecourse. This would save considerable money as it would greatly reduce the set-up costs as some of the infrastructure would be permanent.

Flemington has a number of advantages over Albert Park as there is a direct rail link to the venue from Melbourne's main Flinders Street station. There are also trams and the racecourse is situated close to the major western traffic artery. The plan had not yet been considered by the State Government or by the Victoria Racing Club. The site is bordered by the Maribyrnong River and so there would be a very similar flavour to Albert Park, with parkland and water but permanent grandstands would save a great deal of money. The pits would create something of a problem but a similar situation was worked out in Adelaide back in the 1980s without too much trouble.

The racecourse has undergone a facelift in recent years, with the opening of a new grandstand in 2000 but since then it has been declared a National Heritage Site, which may create problems if roads and other facilities needed to be constructed.