Detroit Grand Prix Sponsorship Being Challenged

The city's annual sponsorship of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is being called to question once again.

Councillor Kieran McKenzie wants hard numbers as to the economic impact the $50,000 sponsorship has for Windsor.

McKenzie was asked city administration to look into factors like hotel stays, casino visits and cross border traffic during the weekend long event.

He says he's not totally opposed to the sponsorship, but believes there needs to be some oversight.

"I think it's really important for us to be able to demonstrate as a civic government that the decisions that we make with public funds are actually yielding the benefits that those investments are intended to make."

McKenzie says residents have been questioning where the money is going for years.

"I know in the community there's a significant amount of concern around this particular investment for the Detroit Grand Prix. I don't think we've seen sufficient data that substantiates how worth while this investment may be, I suspect that it might be, but I want us to have clear evidence that shows that it is."

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New Ward 9 councillor Kieran McKenzie at Windor City Council's swearing in ceremony on December 3, 2018 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

He says he's just looking for some transparency.

"I want the community to have the opportunity to understand the various ways that we identify opportunities for investment and after, that there is a process in place for us to make an evaluation and determine whether or not those decisions where good decisions or bad decisions and can help us in the decision making process on a go forward basis."

Meantime, the CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island believes the sponsorship is money well spent.

Gordon Orr says it's tough to quantify the value of the investment.

"I think if you're looking at one single, signature racecar world class event that we want to attach our name to, this would be it in helping drive those tens of thousands of visitors that attend the Belle Isle grand prix to our region."

He says it's a great way to put Windsor on the international stage.

"This is a partnership that was developed out of Super Bowl back in 2006. I would think, yes, there's tremendous value to it and the fact of the close proximity and it's a world class event. There's no doubt that its something that you can be very proud that the City of Windsor's name is attached to."

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Tourism Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island Executive Director Gordon Orr attends the Feburary 14, 2017 regular meeting of council for the Town of Lakeshore. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Orr says it's all about getting the word out about what Windsor-Essex has to offer.

"They might not come that particular weekend, but they might think of us for the future. We'll provide a 'things to see and do' that weekend to try and give them a compelling enough reason to come over. So the exposure, in the grand scheme of things, is worth while in our estimation and we appreciate the opportunity to be on the island."

McKenzie has asked the grand prix report be brought back to council prior to 2020 budget deliberations.

The 2019 edition of the race goes May 31 to June 2 on Belle Isle.