The Singapore-based ARC Resorts has announced plans to build a six-star hotel, casino, golf course and a museum for glass artists in the marina area of Valencia. The project would also include a second hotel and a number of luxury homes. The area was revamped in 2003 in preparation for the America’s Cup yacht races in 2007. The work included a metro line to the city and the local airport. After the America’s Cup teams departed Formula 1 moved into Valencia but the local government did not have the money to keep the European Grand Prix going. ARC Resorts says that it would be willing to invest $600 million to revive the Grand Prix, arguing that the investment would pay off if they were allowed to build the new complex, which they say would be “the best urban resort in Europe” and which would create 8,000 permanent new jobs. For the city of Valencia this would be a godsend as the area is now neglected and unused. The City Council of Valencia would need to change its rules relating to gambling in order for the project to go ahead, but it would breath life into the city, as the facilities would include a concert area, an indoor shopping centre and an arts centre in the iconic Veles e Vents building in the centre of the harbour, plus a yacht club in the old Team Alinghi base.
ARC has been involved in some of the development that has been going on in Singapore’s Marina Bay. The company is owned by Mark Vlassopulos, the son of Tony Vlassopulos, who ran the Token F1 team in the 1970s, after taking over Ron Dennis’s Rondel Racing. The Spanish see the idea as a way to revive the local economy and to provide money for infrastructure changes such as the long-awaited high-speed train link between the cities of Castellón, Valencia and Alicante and the development of the Castellón airport, which has been mothballed since its official opening.
The plan is to bid for a bi-annual Grand Prix and alternate with Formula E. This sounds a rather unlikely deal. The other element that will be difficult is the title of the race as Azerbaijan is expected to get the European GP tag in the years to comne. The good news is that Formula One Licensing registered the name “Formula 1 Mediterranean Grand Prix” as a trademark last year.
The Formula One group is very keen to create new European races because its contracts with the team require at least half the races (10 events) to be held in Europe. With Germany, Belgium, Italy and even the UK struggling to pay the bills, Ecclestone needs all the options he can find.