A TV reporter and a camerman came over to the Star today to talk to me about the return to Montreal of the Grand Prix of Canada next June and, after they left, I turned to one of the guys I work with and said: “Well, they won’t use any of that interview.”
“How come? he said.
“I was too cheerful,” I said. “I was too positive. I didn’t have anything bad to say.”
It’s true. I can’t see one thing to criticize about Formula One racing returning to Canada.
Not one thing.
I don’t see anything wrong with using public money to subsidize this race (a paltry amount, actually). We’re paying through the nose for the Olympics, aren’t we? How much of a subsidy does the Canadian Open golf tournament get? Don’t kid yourselves, every professional sport and athlete in this country is getting big-time tax breaks one way or another. At least with the Grand Prix, they’re up front about it.
So I didn’t get upset about the use of public money in the interview and when he tried to get me to talk about all the scandals surrounding F1 – the race-fixing, in particular – I essentially said it was old news and nobody cared about that stuff anymore because new drivers and new teams are coming into F1 and the last two world champions are on the same team now and won’t it be exciting to watch Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton battle it out in equal cars, and so-on and so-forth.
However, I guess this was the bit that really sealed the deal:
“The eyes of the world will be on Canada twice next year,” I said. “First for the Olympics in Whistler and then for the Grand Prix in Montreal. You can’t buy better publicity than that. There are three huge sports in the world – the Olympics, Formula One racing and World Cup soccer. We will have two of the three in Canada next year. People in 200 countries are going to watch us on TV. This is gonna be great.”
Now, if I’d said: “The Conservative government of Stephen Harper is squandering taxpayer dollars on a promotion that’s essentially for rich people and did you know food bank use in Canada doubled this year?” I guarantee I would have been the first story on the National.
Or, how about:
“Who would want to go to a sporting event in which the participants have been known to cheat and lie and the cars they drive pollute the environment and contribute to global warming?”
I betcha that one would have gotten me on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos.
But it’s easy to be negative. Dead easy. The media go crazy over headlines like:
OPPOSITION ATTACKS GOVERNMENT
Try being positive about anything these days. People will laugh at you.
And leave your comments on the cutting room floor.
Okay, now I’ll get serious.
We got off easy, folks.
The last time I really paid attention to what was going on so far as the negotiations to bring the race back to Canada were concerned, Bernie Ecclestone wanted $175 million for a five-year contract. Then, that sum dropped to $105 million over five years. After that, my eyes glazed over and I just waited for the press conference.
And this afternoon, when they said $75 million over five years, I really wondered if there’d been a mistake.
But no, it’s $6 million from the city of Montreal, $5 million per annum from the feds and $4 million a year from Quebec. And get this: the city, province and Ottawa will share in 30 per cent of the revenue from ticket sales, so money will be coming back. (Has anybody taken Bernie’s temperature lately?)
Yes, F1 has had its problems but a new day has
dawned. Max Mosley is gone, as is Flavio Briatore and Nelson Piquet Jr. The
manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, BMW) have been replaced by new teams and new
blood – Lotus, Campos, USF1. Bruno Senna will be just one of the many new faces to race
in Montreal next June. It will be an exciting time. (Cross fingers that all of this comes true . . . which the cynic deep in me still suggests might not happen . . .)
But make your hotel reservations fast. The rooms will go quickly.
And Crescent Street awaits.