“This would be the kickoff of the rest of your (summer) activities and events in the community,” Steen said during a presentation to City Council on Monday.
Steen said the event held in Grand Rapids in 1998 and 1999 attracted an estimated 150,000 spectators, $1 million in sponsorships, and had a local economic impact of $20 million each year. It was discontinued when organizers were unable to secure major sponsors for a third year.
Steen said there were a lot of aspects about Grand Haven that made it a unique venue for the race — including the Community Center being a good venue for staging and other race events, Central Park being a good prospect for lawn seating, and streets being the perfect width and length.
“You have a very distinct history of doing things a lot of communities don’t do,” Steen said.
Based on Steen’s presentation, the Grand Am Grand Prix circuit would be created in a way that had little impact on the overall flow of the community, and residential areas would not be directly affected. Steen said that he would also work to minimize any inconveniences that would be presented to the downtown area.
“We would be taking away parking spots with the grandstand setup,” he said, but added they wouldn’t be taking away all of the spaces.
Street circuit requirements include a length of 1.5 miles, a lane width of 25-30 feet, the placement of concrete and tire barriers in and outside the entire length of the circuit, run-off areas with tire barriers at each turn.
“There is not any cost to the community — we pay for the police and fire department,” Steen said, adding any damages would be covered.
Steen is also proposing the establishment of a community-based nonprofit organization to oversee, coordinate and manage the event.
“This is a community event with hopefully community people on board,” Steen said.
Steen is asking City Council for permission to conduct a five-month feasibility study on whether an event could be held in Grand Haven and what the logistics.
“We would be having public meetings and asking for input,” he said.
Some members of City Council said they were intrigued by what Steen was proposing, and would at the very least allow him to conduct a feasibility study.
Councilman Mike Fritz said he thought that the event would be a good community draw, especially if done in a safe way.
“I am very interested in it and I am a car fanatic,” Fritz said. “I am interested in the study to see how it works.”
Councilman Dennis Scott also said he would like to see more about what the event means.
“I think a study and getting public input on this would be a good idea,” Scott said.