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Hard times in Melbourne?

NEWS STORY
04/10/2006

In its annual report to the Victorian Parliament, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) has revealed a loss of $21m Au (£8.27m) on this year's race, a significant increase on the previous year's loss of $13m Au (£5.1m).

Due to the fact that the Commonwealth Games were being held in Melbourne, the Australian Grand Prix was staged almost a month later than usual, which meant that Bahrain kicked off the 2006 season.

Though Melbourne returns to the opening slot for 2007, it was noticed that the 'user friendly' time zone of the Bahrain event meant, certainly in Europe, that there were bigger TV audiences than is usual for the Australian event. However, AGPC boss Ron Walker, a close friend of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, has managed to get Melbourne back to its traditional slot.

The AGPC's report blames the loss on the fact that two major sporting events were held so close together, resulting in a loss of ticket sales. The later March scheduling of the event didn't help either, it claims.

"There was a risk that ticket sales revenue would be impacted by staging two major events so close to each other," said the report. "This risk materialised and the corporation achieved lower ticket sales revenue as compared to prior years even though a crowd of over 300,000 attended the four-day motor-racing festival.

In 2007 however, the Grand Prix clashes with the World Swimming Championships, while the new ban on tobacco advertising, and the departure of Michael Schumacher, are also sure to have an impact.

In June, the Victorian state government approved as much as $52m Au (£20.4m) over the next four years in an attempt not only to bring new sporting events to the state but to retain existing events such as the Grand Prix.

If the decline continues, the AGPC may need every cent.

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