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Mat Coch writes:A new Formula 1-spec circuit is set to be built in Greece, according to the Ministry for Regional Development and Competitiveness. A site for the 94.6million euro project has been identified 20km south of Patras, the country's third largest city, in a project expect to last two years.
It's not the first time Greece has announced intentions to build a facility with which to attract Formula One. In 2005, in the wake of the Olympic Games, there were suggestions the old Athens airport could be transformed into a motor racing venue, however those plans were soon scrapped. Other locations were suggested, including the Viotia region, about 100km north of Athens, though nothing came of that announcement either.
In 2007 the Greek Automobile Club (ELPA) announced the signing of a decree by Greek President Karlos Papoulias, specifying minimum circuit requirements. "This decree enables investors to build something and subsequently apply for funding," ELPA chairman Vassilis Despotopoulos told AFP at the time, yet again nothing more was heard of the project.
Arguments for the latest project claim that it will create 500 new jobs, and attract more tourists to the country - the tourism industry accounting for about 15% of the country's GPD. However foreign politicians have slated the idea as 'irresponsible' given that fellow Eurozone members handed Greece a 110 billion euro bailout, the country's economy collapsing during the global economic crisis.
Information received by Pitpass further highlights the obstacles the project still faces. "For its construction, they will supposedly receive a 40% state subsidy for the first 50 million euros and a 20% subsidy for the remaining amount. But, with Greece effectively being on the brink of bankruptcy, who knows if the subsidies will be paid as promised," says our source. "Even assuming that the required funding will eventually be in place, they have no confessed intention to bid for an F1 race in the short term, even if it will be an international level track.
"You cannot begin to imagine the political mess in Greece; so far it has been close to impossible to make serious arrangements and to coordinate with the politicians that 'run' our once glorious country."
The latest suggestions can therefore be treated with some scepticism, as stories over a Greek Grand Prix begin to sound like a tale from Sophocles, an entertaining idea though for the moment pure fantasy.
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