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NEWS STORY
08/03/2006

In the build up to the Bahrain Grand Prix, the 2006 season opener, the media has been subjected to a barrage of press releases regarding all manner of issues apparently relating to the event.

We're told of a "race of legends", an art exhibition, soaring ticket sales, a 172-metre billboard, Jay Kay (Jamiroquai front man) coming out to play, free three-day passes for students, and history being made when Bahraini singer, Mohammed Al Bakri, takes part in the opening ceremony for Sunday's race.

Clearly, Bahrain is the place to be.

Then comes another piece of positive spin, this time courtesy of Kevin Eason in The Times: "Although Bahrain is thought to pay one of the highest fees to Ecclestone - about £20 million - to host its grand prix, the takings for the tiny Middle Eastern country are enormous," he writes. "A survey for the Bahrain International Circuit estimated that Formula One was worth revenues of about £150 million with the sport's circus of mechanics and engineers, plus the vast media presence accounting for 2,000 flights into the country, plus 1,000 hotel rooms."

Now it doesn't take a mathematical genius to work out that 2,000 flights into Bahrain are going to require a darn sight more than 1,000 hotel rooms, which is why so many of those who do attend the Grand Prix opt to stay in neighbouring countries such as Dubai.

However, if the organizers in Bahrain really do feel that they are getting full value for their £20m payment, then they are in the minority as far as F1 race promoters are concerned.

At a time when free tickets are being given out to students - four to a car - and only 1,000 hotel rooms are available, it seems unbelievable that organizers can be talking of revenues of £150m.

It simply doesn't add up.

Then again, at a time when some circuits are looking to drop off the F1 calendar, perhaps, in some remote corner of the planet, there is a gullible government official, who, upon reading of the Bahrain success story, may think he's found the solution to his country's economic problems.

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