South Africa to bid for F1 grand prix from 2013
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa is bidding to host a Formula One Grand Prix in Cape Town from 2013, which would be the country's first in nearly 20 years.
Plans are for a Monaco-style race through the streets of Cape Town that pass along the Atlantic Ocean coast and by the stadium used in last year's soccer World Cup.
However, a senior city official warned on Tuesday that high costs could scupper the proposal.
"The benefits of F1 look very compelling, however we need to look at the cost of hosting another big sports event and if it is in the developmental interests of the city," Mansoor Mohamed, executive director of economic, social development and tourism for the City of Cape Town, told Reuters.
Africa's largest economy last held a Formula One race at Kyalami in 1993 won by French driver Alain Prost a year before the country's first democratic elections.
Mohamed said initial indications showed it would cost 1 billion rand for Cape Town to host a race.
He said a final decision by the city on whether to support an F1 bid was expected within the next six to 12 months.
However, the Cape Town Grand Prix Bid Company, which released details of its bid, felt the four-day event would bring enormous economic benefits to the country.
"Unlike other mega-events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, which occur every four years, Formula One takes place annually, making its economic effect even more significant," the company said without providing details of the financial impact.
Esther Henderson, spokeswoman for the bid company, said they were talking with the office of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to present their bid in London ahead of the racing season which starts in March.
"We have been in talks with potential investors and they have looked favourably at our proposals," Henderson said.
The company proposed a 5.7 km street circuit through the trendy Green Point suburb, set against the iconic backdrop of Table Mountain, and fully utilising the Cape Town Stadium.
Cape Town has been looking at ways to best use the newly built, 4.4 billion rand World Cup stadium amid concerns that many of the soccer venues constructed for the finals could become white elephants.
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