Give Joe Battenfeld and the racy local tabloid their due: They’re not downshifting their efforts to total the proposed Grand Prix of Boston, maybe the second-worst idea Mayor Marty Walsh has had in office. (Store 2024 – c’mon down!)
Today’s Boston Herald, Page One (Inexplicable Little Green Numbers Galore!).
Massive luxury skyboxes and beer gardens will loom large over the proposed 2.2-mile Boston IndyCar race course in the Seaport District that could jam traffic and require more permits for the Labor Day weekend spectacle, new documents show.
A 47-page “Stakeholders Info Deck” from the Grand Prix of Boston, obtained by the Herald, is targeting young, smartphone-wielding, rich professionals.
Not, we might add, the Boston Herald readership. The young, smartphone-wielding, rich professionals do, however, read the Boston Globe, which is still drafting in second place.
Labor Day event scratched, as promoters criticize city’s ‘ridiculous’ demands
Promoters of an IndyCar race in the Seaport this September are peeling out of Boston and will not race in the city.
“The relationship between us and the city is not working,” said John Casey, president of what had been called the Grand Prix of Boston, in a Globe interview Friday. “The relationship is untenable.” . . .
Instead, the promoters will turn to Plan B and try to hold a Labor Day race in a backup city in the Northeast, Casey said. The promoters have had contact with two other cities, he said, one of which is in New England.
“They are both willing to do it without the headaches of Boston,” he said, declining to name the cities.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh was behind the wheel of the Grand Prix of Boston and got burned by its fiery crash, ignoring a series of repeated wrong turns and warning signs that the race would never get off the starting line.
Walsh’s administration spent a year pushing an idea that seemed ludicrous to many Bostonians: hosting a high-speed IndyCar race in a city that can’t even fill potholes or sync up its traffic lights.
No kidding – it’s like Joe Cocker has timed the traffic lights in Boston.
Regardless, here’s Battenfeld’s moneyquote:
Casey gave all the race vendors, consultants and attorneys a similar brusque sendoff, writing: “Thank you for your work. Pencils down” — another way of saying: I’m not paying you any more.
Then Casey let it be known he was taking his speedy race cars to a city that really wanted them: Providence.
Chalk up one more checkered flag for the racy local tabloid.
But sometimes one of the dailies does the right thing. Spoiler alert: It isn’t the Globe.
Page One of yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe featured this piece about Mayor Martin J. Wiretap.
Walsh is drawn into federal labor probe
Before he was mayor, when Walsh was a labor leader, he was heard on a wiretap saying he had warned a developer using non-union workers. Walsh denies it.
A sweeping federal investigation into allegations of strong-arm tactics by unions has triggered a wave of subpoenas to union leaders, developers, and Boston City Hall staff, bringing scrutiny to Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration and his work as a labor leader before taking office in 2014, according to people familiar with the inquiry.
At issue in the investigation is whether labor officials threatened developers and business people who hired nonunion workers on their projects. Walsh, though apparently not an early focus of the probe, became drawn into it through wiretaps on which he was recorded in 2012, saying he had told a development company it would face permitting problems on a planned Boston high-rise unless it used union labor at another project in Somerville, according to people familiar with the tapes.
Well that’s a big story and you knew right off it would be in the Herald today and sure enough it gets a two-page spread.
Nothing unusual there. But what does stand out are the two times the Globe is credited with breaking the story, first in Hillary Chabot’s piece:
Walsh yesterday shook off suggestions that a federal inquiry into labor strong-arming has any connection to his work as mayor. The Boston Globe reported that Walsh as the head of Boston Building Trades Council was heard on a wiretap in 2012 saying he had warned a developer to get union workers on a Somerville project or risk losing Boston permits.
Then a second time in this piece by Jack Encarnacao and Laurel Sweet:
The wiretapped statement was captured during a conversation between Walsh, then-head of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council, and Laborers Local 22 leader Anthony Perrone, the Boston Globe reported yesterday citing unnamed sources.
Good for you, Heraldniks!
And, hey, you Morrissey Boulevardiers: Take a lesson, wouldja?
In another potentially serious setback to the Boston Grand Prix, a little-known city commission has blocked IndyCar race promoters from building parts of the course because of new climate change rules that require them to get a wetlands permit.
The 4-1 vote by the city’s Conservation Commission is the latest unexpected roadblock to the race, which has faced tough scrutiny from residents and a monthslong review from the city and state that put the Labor Day event in jeopardy.
Conservation panel says Grand Prix needs more permits
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Friday that he is optimistic IndyCar race organizers would be able to hold their event in South Boston in September, despite new environmental concerns raised by the Boston Conservation Commission.
“I’m hoping to see it here Labor Day weekend,” Walsh told reporters at a morning event. “I think there’s a process now they can follow, and I think they have to follow that process and make their case.”
In a 4-to-1 vote this week, the commission, which has responsibility for protecting wetlands in the city, concluded that the route planned for the race travels through a 100-year flood zone, and that organizers had to apply for permits that consider the potential environmental impact of any construction.
Nowhere does the Globe piece acknowledge that the Herald drove there first.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is demanding IndyCar promoters get their act together, issuing an ultimatum to “finalize” deals with state agencies soon, in a major toughening of his stance on the planned Labor Day road race.
In an emailed letter obtained by the Herald, Walsh’s chief of operations, Patrick Brophy, gave IndyCar just 14 days to reach financial and other agreements with several agencies that control most of the planned course on the waterfront.
“It is expected that your team will finalize agreements with all interested parties within the next two (2) weeks,” Brophy said in an email Friday to Jim Freudenberg, chief commercial officer for the Grand Prix of Boston, local promoters for the race. “Please be advised that the Mayor grows increasingly concerned with the progress (or lack thereof) of those discussions.”
We’ll see if IndyCar can move that fast.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe has stalled out on the story.
The type of Grand Prix racing poised to roar through Boston’s streets next year has forced other host cities to inject taxpayer money to keep the motors running — in one case up to $4 million — spotlighting the challenges the Hub faces in avoiding a big public tab for the event, the Herald has found.
“These events do require capital, like any other type of sporting event or facility, and the onus is on the event promoter to be able to make the event work … from a promotional aspect, from an operational standpoint and also as a neighbor,” said Tim Frost, a Chicago-based motorsports business consultant.
“There is a really big economic event in there,” Frost said, and how they’ll avoid tapping public funds is “a very valid question.”
The Herald piece details some of the taxpayer liability in IndyCar cities San Jose, Baltimore, and St. Petersburg, Fla. The filmy local tabloid also provides this helpful video:
Crosstown, meanwhile, the Boston Globe is stuck in first gear, lamely running this piece on today’s C3.
Indy race riles condo owners
S. Boston group’s letter cites safety, noise issues
Residents of a condo complex on the South Boston Waterfront are challenging efforts to turn their street into part of Boston’s first IndyCar race.
In a 14-page letter sent to Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Tuesday, a lawyer representing the Seaport Lofts Condominium Association raised a number of legal issues with the race.
Among them: the allegation that the city improperly negotiated a contract with event organizer Grand Prix of Boston without going through the proper public review.
The condo residents’ goals include blocking the race, scheduled to take place during Labor Day weekend next year, or forcing it to be moved.
But nothing about the hosing taxpayers might get from the five-year event.
Both local dailies, however, are drafting on David Bernstein’s major takeout in Boston magazine three months ago.
Is the Grand Prix Taking Boston for a Ride?
Since Boston is already mired in a mud fight over whether or not the city can afford to host the 2024 Olympics, you might think Mayor Marty Walsh would be reluctant to take on any big, new, public sporting events. Not so. In mid-May, without public hearings, Walsh signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Grand Prix of Boston, clearing the way for the city to host five annual IndyCar road races on the South Boston waterfront, each Labor Day weekend from 2016 to 2020. Speaking by phone on Tuesday, Walsh compared the Grand Prix to the Tall Ships display, which returns to Boston in 2017. “The economic opportunity is something that made me interested in it,” he says.
It’s an interesting comparison, given Boston’s wild, sometimes comical, occasionally acrimonious disagreements about the economic value of the Tall Ships over the past 25 years. Those events either brought close to $1 billion to greater Boston, or were a net loss, or anywhere in between, depending on whom you ask.
Bernstein proceeds to chronicle, in eye-popping detail, the financial burdens the Grand Prix has imposed on other IndyCar cities. If it’s not the definitive piece on this topic, it’ll do until something better comes along.