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Ecclestone looking to double Turkey fees?

NEWS STORY
06/06/2010

It is claimed that Bernie Ecclestone is looking to double the fee he charges for the Turkish Grand Prix if the event is to remain on the calendar.

While the Istanbul Park Circuit - one of Hermann Tilke's rare successes - can usually be counted on to provide some decent races, organizers continue to find it difficult to put bums on seats, while the inaugural race attracted 185,000 spectators, by last year this had dropped to 65,000.

Nonetheless, Ecclestone, who won all operating rights for the Istanbul circuit for seven years in 2004 and who guaranteed to hold F1 races there during this period, is seeking to increase the fee from $13.5m (9.3m) to $26m (17.9).

"Turkey is definitely fond of hosting these races, and all this haggling is taking place for this," Turkey's Youth and Sports Director (GSGM) Yunus Akgul told Today's Zaman. "However, paying $26 million for this organization every year is a big burden. The figure is very high.

"We've approached the deal from a different angle," he continued. "Our last offer was that he (Ecclestone) relinquish the operating rights to Istanbul Park, and we guaranteed that the track would be reserved for the organization for three weeks before and during the races. In return, we wanted him to come up with a new offer."

Over the course of the Turkish GP weekend, Ecclestone spoke with State Minister for Sports Faruk Nafiz Ozak and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, the Englishman subsequently claiming that he was hopeful that a new ten-year deal might be agreed.

However, Ozak claims that Ecclestone was quite blunt in terms of his demands, telling him: "I leave it up to you. India and Arab countries are all ready to take your place".

Other than the Grand Prix, and a number of minor events, the Istanbul Park Circuit is unused for much of the year. This is because the operator (guess who) demands "extremely high fees".

"If GSGM undertakes the operation of the course, it will open it up for events by the automobile and motorcycle federations, along with a number of auto races including the MotoGP," said Akgul.

It is understood that Ecclestone pays just $3m (2m) a year to lease the circuit.

Bootiful (think about it)

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