Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, June 5, 2016. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

Michigan Wants Grand Prix On Belle Isle, But With Adjustments

The state of Michigan is willing to allow the race cars to continue on Belle Isle, but there’s a catch.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provided its response Friday to the Detroit Grand Prix’s request to extend its run on the city’s island park, Belle Isle.

The DNR says they want to keep the race on Belle Isle, but with a few minor adjustments.

Ron Olson, DNR division chief in charge of parks and recreation, says they will go back to the organizers and present a series of proposed changes to the proposal, ensuring that the island continues to thrive as a favourite spot for recreation.

These changes are in the areas of the amount of compensation for holding the event, such as the number of days the race will need the island, from start to finish; and offsetting any lost revenue from picnic shelters, concessions and other park facilities that would normally operate during that time period. Other changes being sought are details on accountability to ensure that any damage due to the race is repaired or restored to the DNR’s satisfaction.

Olson says there’s no question they’d like the race to continue on the island.

“We believe there are many far-reaching benefits in working toward a plan where Belle Isle Park continues as the site of the Detroit Grand Prix,” says Olson in a statement shared on the DNR’s official Twitter account. “We feel confident that we can arrive at a plan that honours the history, excitement and impact of this iconic race, while also safeguarding and enhancing the green spaces and experiences that people have come to expect from a day at Belle Isle.”

Belle Isle is part of Michigan’s network of state parks, though it remains owned by the city of Detroit.

Race organizers presented their renewal proposal to a public meeting earlier this month with the Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee. The Grand Prix is proposing an increase of its annual event fee to $300,000 a year, plus a $50,000 contribution to the DNR for a project to be determined and a $35,000 contribution for projects and programming in the paddock area. It would be a three-year agreement starting in 2019 with an option for an additional two years.

Grand Prix president Michael Montri told that they are more than willing to work with the DNR to move the plan forward. Montri also said the race got exceptionally high marks from drivers, spectators, sponsors, vendors and media about the overall experience, particularly the race’s volunteer corps.