Michigan City Signs Popular Boat Races for Five More Years
BY STAN MADDUX – NWI Times – Nov 30, 2014
One of Northwest Indiana’s biggest events will continue for at least another five years.
A contract extension through 2019 has been signed with Super Boat International, the organization that stages the Great Lakes Grand Prix.
The race featuring boats traveling faster than 100 mph has drawn 100,000 or more spectators in each of the six years that it’s been held along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Michigan City.
Race day attendance plus turnout for the boat parade, downtown block party and other events during the week leading up to the race adds up to about a quarter million people, said Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer.
“This has a significant and positive economic impact on our area,” Meer said.
Michigan City in 2009 was added to the Super Boat International race schedule, which includes cities such as Mobile, Ala., and Key West, Fla.
Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the organization was eager to work out an extension of the existing three year contract that ends in 2015.
Such enthusiasm shows just how strong the response has been to the event in Michigan City, considering the group could secure deals to have races in just about any city along a major waterway, he said.
“There’s folks waiting in the wings to grab these openings,” Arnett said.
Arnett said the bureau shells out about $150,000 a year to have the event with $85,000 of that going up front to Super Boat International.
The remainder is used to promote the races.
An increasing percentage of those funds come from a growing number of local sponsors, Arnett said.
The return on the investment is huge, he said, with studies revealing anywhere from $5 million to $8 million spent each year by race fans in local businesses such as hotels and restaurants.
In fact, records were set for the race last year in terms of economic impact and attendance.
“It has to be right up there with the top events across Indiana certainly north of Indianapolis,” said Arnett.
Meer said the race has become a “signature event” for the community and a major opportunity to showcase Michigan City, particularly the revitalizing downtown, to the people coming to watch the boats from outside the area.
“With a commitment to have even more teams and boats here for future races, this event will continue to grow and display our community, its businesses and citizens in a positive light” Meer said.