Donington Park Given September Deadline by Ecclestone

The clock is ticking for Donington Park to secure a place in the 2010 Formula 1 schedule. According to F1 supreme Bernie Ecclestone – who is practically the deciding factor in terms of setting up the series' calendar – the British venue will have until September 2009 to convince him that they are worthy and capable of hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix two years from now.

The owners of the track, Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd. (DVLL), are in danger of losing the 10-year contract with Ecclestone should they fail to secure at least £40 million in funding in order to start upgrading the track and facilities. The first stage of the restoration plan is expected to be given the go-ahead by the North West Leicestershire District Council as early as Thursday.

“They (DVLL) have a contract with us that I am sure they understand, and I would imagine they have considered the state of the market and have a fall-back position. I am relying on what they told me they will deliver, and we have a September deadline, from memory, to see that all is as it should be. If it is not then we have four or five venues ready to stage a race,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Ecclestone as saying.

However, DVLL officials have admitted that finding the necessary funding to secure the mandatory updates to the track construction, pit and paddock complex and hospitality suites is not an easy thing to do under the current economic crisis. Especially since the company will need to invest no less than £100 million over the next 5 years.

“Would we rather have been testing the market and putting together this product a year ago? Of course we would. Now is neither the best time to be persuading people to part with money for a new sporting proposition, nor is it the best time to be asking banks to back an offer of this sort,” said Andrew Hambel, CEO of ISG – a company engaged by the DVLL to restructure the circuit's seat packages.

"Of course we would have been more confident of being able to do this 12 months ago, but the project has a lot going for it. Formula One remains a huge draw, and the Lewis Hamiton effect is very positive. Whether it all stacks up to deliver the kind of financing we need is uncertain, but we would not be devoting the time we are to putting this package together if we were not confident that we can deliver,” added Hambel.
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