Finley: Keep Grand Prix on Belle Isle

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Being a comeback city can be sometimes inconvenient. Noisy. Disruptive. It almost always means change.

That's a small price for Detroit to pay for regaining its status as one of America's premier cities.

The Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle fits into that category.

Detroit Grand Prix organizers would like to continue racing on Belle Isle.

Erecting the race track, staging the race and then tearing it all down again takes time. 

During that springtime period, portions of the park are off-limits, and the natural vistas of the island are interrupted.

But the benefits outweigh the downside.

Grand Prix organizers are asking for a three-year extension of their contract to stage the race on Belle Isle, with an option for an additional two years.

A "No Prix on Belle Isle" sign is attached to the rear of this trike.

In exchange, they are adding more weight to the benefits side of the scale. 

The annual hosting fee will be upped by 50 percent, to $300,000. That's on top of $50,000 year to the Michigan DNR for island improvements.

That money helps pay for the ongoing upgrades to the island park, which has flourished since operations were transferred to the DNR from the city.

The Grand Prix is also pledging to further reduce its time on the island to 62 days, three days shorter than the 65 this year and 12 days less than in 2017.

The Grand Prix has brought $13 million in investment to Belle Isle.

But even more valuable is the terrific national exposure the race brings to Detroit. The television camera angles of the city during the race are gorgeous.

This should be an easy call for the DNR. Approve the extension and keep the race on Belle Isle. And keep working with the Grand Prix to lessen its impact on recreational uses of the island.

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