Formula 1 to return to Indianapolis?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Joie Chitwood has told Bloomberg that he is confident that Formula 1 will return to the speedway in the future, despite the fact that the United States Grand Prix has been dropped from the calendar for 2008.

"There’s nothing definitive but I think there has been some dialogue," he said. "It’s coming up with the right plan so everybody can benefit from it. We have made a lot of investment in the property. We were disappointed when it went away. For us, the goal is to see if we can get them to come back at some point."

The problem was one of money as Bernie Ecclestone had a sum of money that he wanted in his mind and IMS owner Tony George was not willing to pay that sum.

Indianapolis has since landed a MotoGP event but there is no reason why F1 could not return and there could be a fourth event at the Indianapolis each year.

In order for that to happen there would need to be funding from the local authorities and the State of Indiana, the City of Indianapolis and Marion County have all been heavily involved in the funding of the new Colts stadium, to be known as Lucas Oil Stadium, which began in 2005 and is due to be finished in 2008. The stadium will by then have cost around $675m. Once the new stadium is finished the current RCA Dome is going to be demolished and work will begin to expand the Indianapolis Convention Center, with the work due to be completed by 2010. The city bid to hold Super Bowl XLV in 2011 but lost out to Dallas. The city is thus well-placed to help out with funding for a new race once all the work has been completed.

There is already a major redevelopment being planned at the IMS with a 400-acre area to the south of the Speedway being opened up. This will also involve the reprofiling of 16th street and may include Georgetown Road (to the west of the track) being moved to create more space inside the facility. This development will include a number of racing-related facilities which will create a new year-round destination for race fans and motorsports enthusiasts, plus a new retail "corridor" along Main Street with condominium development on the upper floors. There will also be improved access to the speedway and to the new businesses and housing. The plan is to have the work finished by 2011 when Indianapolis will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

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