Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante announced that the city is canceling July’s season-ending Formula E race, citing financial mismanagement by event organizers and the city’s previous administration that would cost taxpayers more than $30 million dollars.
Plante, who was elected as the city’s mayor in November, began a series of postings on Twitter by saying “We have worked very hard to make an informed decision about the future of the Formula E [race] in Montreal, in the best interest of the [people].”
“When we took office we immediately started looking into the Formula E file. What we discovered was not only troubling, it was shocking. It became pretty clear as early as May 2017 that we were heading towards a financial fiasco.”
Radio-Canada reported that race organizers – a nonprofit organization that contracted with Formula E and not the city – exhausted a $10 million line of credit, which Plante said the city capped “in order to stop the bleeding.” The city is responsible for the line of credit.
“Upon our arrival [in office], we very quickly found enormous challenges…[of which] the previous administration was fully aware,” she said.
Former mayor Denis Coderre advocated for the Formula E race as a means to promote sustainable energy initiatives in Montreal. But it used public funds, and last year’s race left a deficit of millions of dollars, according to Radio-Canada. It was also revealed through “Montreal it’s electric,” the nonprofit created to organize the race, that attendance numbers had been inflated; while 25,000 tickets were sold at least 20,000 tickets had been given away.
During her election campaign, Plante said she would either hold the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – due to an outcry over the downtown location – or cancel it. Plante said on Monday that she and involved parties met to see if it was possible to restart the process.
“We had three options in mind: moving the race to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, building a temporary racetrack somewhere else, taking a one-year break in order to clean the house and work on a better business model,” she said.
“My administration is willing to take risks and to invest money to promote Montreal, to attract international events, but not without a serious business case. The administrators of Formula E told me they couldn’t bridge the gap for 2018 because they are accountable to their stakeholders, I reminded them that we are accountable to the people of Montreal.
“This is where we draw the line. Formula E will not return to Montreal in these conditions.”
In a statement, a Formula E spokesperson said: “We are very surprised and disappointed by the unilateral decision and announcement of the Mayor of Montreal. This is a clear case of a new mayor undoing what the previous mayor did.”
The race’s future in Montreal is unknown; the Formula E race was scheduled to continue in 2019.
News of the Montreal cancellation comes several weeks after the Sao Paulo race was postponed to season five and Punta del Este was added as its replacement.