- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

D.C. Council member Harold Brazil says the prospect of the upcoming Grand Prix race in the District has been sullied unfairly by media reports.

"Much of the controversy over the [race] seems to have been generated by one-sided reporting, trying to slay a dragon that does not exist," said Mr. Brazil, at-large Democrat and chairman of the council's committee on economic development.

During an oversight hearing on the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday, Mr. Brazil said several council members have failed "to notice that the race has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars" in revenue over the next 10 years.

Mr. Brazil's statements were not well-received by council members Adrian Fenty and Kevin P. Chavous, who were at the forefront of an ongoing quarrel between some city residents and the sports commission over the commission's handling of environmental and financial matters related to the race.

The Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C., to be held July 19-21 on a temporary course built next to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, will be the first major auto-racing event in the District in more than 80 years.

Permits were issued this week and the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs said Wednesday that the environmental effects of the race will be negligible.

Chris Lencheski, chairman of National Grand Prix Holdings, the company promoting the race, has said the race will occur as scheduled.

But some residents close to the grounds have complained about potential noise pollution and environmental hazards.

"The reason why the notion of the Grand Prix has taken on a life of its own is because there was not the proper engagement by the sports commission of the community" where some households are within 50 feet of the racetrack, said Mr. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat.

Mr. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said the sports commission, a semi-independent agency created by the District in 1994 to organize and promote sporting events in the city, has withheld important financial information from him about the city's contract with National Grand Prix. He said he asked for a copy of the full contract three weeks ago and received an incomplete version only yesterday.

"I have almost no financial information concerning this contract and as a member of the committee on economic development, that is what troubles me the most," Mr. Fenty said.

Mr. Brazil urged the council to have patience with the sports commission. In the past, it "has consistently responded to our inquiries in a timely manner," he said. "Some have not always liked the answers, but as they say, intelligent people can disagree."

Mr. Brazil said the city "got a great deal" on the Grand Prix contract, which "will create jobs for District residents and millions of dollars of revenue for District business both sorely needed." The event is estimated to generate $350 million over the next 10 years.

It will feature 200 Formula-1 race cars from four sanctioning bodies: American LeMans, Trans-Am, World Challenge and Star Mazda. It also will include a stunt jump by motorcyclist Robbie Knievel.


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