Detroit Grand Prix’s Move Downtown Expected to Generate $77M in Spending

When the Detroit Grand Prix returns to the streets of downtown Detroit June 2-4 2023, race organizers expect it to generate $77 million in total spending for the region, a 20 percent increase from the Belle Isle venue.
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A rendering of the new Detroit Grand Prix track looking east on Jefferson Avenue. // Courtesy of Detroit Grand Prix
A rendering of the new Detroit Grand Prix track looking east on Jefferson Avenue. // Courtesy of Detroit Grand Prix

When the Detroit Grand Prix returns to the streets of downtown Detroit June 2-4 2023, race organizers expect it to generate $77 million in total spending for the region, a 20 percent increase from the Belle Isle venue.

Grand Prix officials presented their vision for the new downtown race at a Renaissance Center press conference on Tuesday. The economic impact was provided by a University of Michigan Sports Management Department study along with the Center for Sports Venues and Real Estate Development.

“We are very excited to bring the Grand Prix back to downtown Detroit beginning in 2023,” says Bud Denker, chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. “Bringing this annual international event back to the streets of Detroit will help our businesses downtown, will shine a light on our beautiful riverfront with an inclusive summertime festival, and it will open up new opportunities to engage and connect with our local neighborhoods and communities.”

For those who live and work downtown, race officials say the new downtown Grand Prix layout will have minimal impact on traffic flow as the track will not extend north of Jefferson Avenue. The new track design is designed to increase foot traffic from event attendees for downtown businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and bars.

The new home of the Grand Prix will feature three full days of activities while racing on a new 1.7-mile, 10-turn street circuit along Jefferson Avenue, as well as Bates, Atwater, St. Antoine, Franklin, and Rivard streets (mostly around the GM Renaissance Center).

More than half of the event’s footprint along Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit Riverfront will be open free of charge. Race fans will have complimentary access to the main fan activation areas at the event, including Spirit Plaza, Hart Plaza, as well as the Riverwalk where live music, food, games, and displays will be open all weekend without the purchase of a Grand Prix ticket.

The Grand Prix’s proposal to return the event to its original home on the streets of Detroit was unanimously approved by Detroit City Council on Nov. 3. Since September, Grand Prix organizers have met with more than 1,000 people throughout the city, listening to feedback and ideas on the downtown relocation from Detroit residents, business leaders, neighborhood groups, and city officials.

Race officials say they will work to create an even deeper level of engagement with Detroit neighborhoods. In the coming months, the race will be working to connect some of its key founding partners to neighborhoods across the city to support specific programming and projects. This community connection will extend throughout the year with experiences and engagement opportunities for city residents during Grand Prix weekend.

In addition to its enhanced community outreach, the Grand Prix says it will continue its local charitable efforts while it transitions to downtown in 2023. With the help of its partners, the Grand Prix has helped make more than $13.5 million in improvements to its current home on Belle Isle since 2007. More than $5 million in additional funds have been raised for the Belle Isle Conservancy over the last six years through the annual Grand Prixmiere Gala hosted on race weekend.

Grand Prix organizers say they plan to continue hosting the Grand Prixmiere in the future and have pledged to extend its support for Belle Isle and the Belle Isle Conservancy. As part of its continued efforts, the Grand Prix will contribute a portion of the funds raised at the annual charity gala to ensure that the iconic Scott Fountain on Belle Isle will be up and running for the start of race weekend each year and the historic fountain will flow throughout the summer for park visitors to enjoy.

The Grand Prix also plans to contribute to several other Detroit-area charities in 2023 through the funds raised at the Grand Prixmiere moving forward. On Tuesday, Denker announced that the first organization that the event will contribute to annually is the Detroit Public Safety Foundation (DPSF). Founded to support the efforts of Detroit’s first responders, the DPSF helps provide programs that make Detroit a safer place to live, work and visit.

“We appreciate all that Detroit’s first responders do every day to help keep our city safe,” says Denker. “We would not be able to bring the Grand Prix back downtown and host a world-class event in the Motor City without the help of the Detroit Police Department and the Detroit Fire Department and we feel it’s so important to support everything they do year-round through the important work of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation.”

The Grand Prix has one more weekend at Belle Isle Park, June 3-5, 2022, before the move to the city streets.

The Detroit Grand Prix began as a Formula One race on the streets of Motor City beginning in 1982 and going through 1988. Downtown became an IndyCar venue from 1989-1991. In 1992, the Grand Prix transitioned to Belle Isle and ran with IndyCars through 2001.

After a six-year hiatus, the Grand Prix returned to Belle Isle with the help of local businessman and IndyCar team owner Roger Penske. The race returned in 2007 and 2008, paused for a few years due to the national recession and returned in 2012 with support from General Motors Co. and Chevrolet serving as the event’s title sponsor.

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