Road work crews have taken two of four lanes away from cars on Baltimore’s Pratt Street, to turn the arterial into a raceway for next year’s Grand Prix.
By Cathy Duchamp
One year from now, Baltimore will host the mid-Atlantic’s first Grand Prix auto race. But first, city streets have to be turned into a race track. That means construction that starts in earnest this week.
The Pratt Street Ale House stands close to where the checkered flag will fly.
"It’s loud out here right now and as you can see there’s been a few little accidents as far as the mud splattering onto the tables on the street," says Michael Schultheiss.
Schultheiss waits tables just a couple yards from the construction. He thinks the short term pain will make for long term gain.
"Everyone’s excited about it. I think the estimated revenue it’s going to bring in is something like $100,000,000 for the city," he says.
For the record, race backers say the Grand Prix will generate $70 million. That includes 6 million in direct tax revenue. But the next twelve months of preparation does have costs.
"The bottom line is mostly likely to suffer. Sales tax revenues are going to suffer. Customers are going to suffer," says Lou Boulmetis, owner of Hippodrome Hatters, a hat shop two blocks north of the race course.
The city put up no parking signs in front of his store during construction. Boulmetis says the restrictions are overkill. He’s lobbying the city to lift them.