Dolphins execs interested in luring Race of Champions to Miami
Hometown fans at Dolphin Stadium haven't had a lot to cheer for in 2007. Would that change if Dolphins execs successfully lured the Race of Champions to Miami? It couldn't hurt, writes Marty Smith.
Updated: December 19, 2007, 1:49 PM ETBy Marty Smith | ESPN.com
The Race of Champions is truly a splendid event, one brimming with national pride, international camaraderie and precision competition among some of the greatest and most respected racing drivers in the world, from all disciplines of motorsport.That makes it a coveted commodity. And it makes event founder Fredrik Johnnson an influential man.
"We've been chasing Fredrik for a few years now," Terry Bassett, Miami Dolphins vice president of business development, told ESPN.com Sunday while attending the event in London. "I hate to stand here in Wembley and say, 'Hey, we want your event.' But we want their event."Dolphin Stadium executives are interested in luring ROC to the United States. "When I went to [work for] Dolphin Stadium and the Miami Dolphins, part of my marching orders is to bring new events to the stadium," said Bassett, a former executive at International Speedway Corp., which owns 12 tracks on which the Nextel Cup Series competes. "We did a big renovation, about $350 million, to our building and how are you going to fill it up?"Anticipating the Marlins not being there when they get their new building, when you're dark, you need to fill it with dates. This is a perfect event: big names, international scope. We believe because of our South Florida location, proximity to Central America and South America, we've got a location not many places in the U.S. can compete with."If this were to come to fruition, it would mark the first time ROC was held outside of Europe. Among the past locations are Paris, the Canary Islands, Madrid, Barcelona, Nurburgring and Monthlery. This was London's first time hosting the event. Johnnson said the current contract with Wembley Stadium is a one-year deal with "options in our favor for 2008 and/or 2009." He said the event is likely to return to Wembley next year.After that, it's anybody's ball game.Johnnson said there are some seven or eight renowned venues worldwide in contention to secure the event in the future, Miami being one of them.
AP Photo/Tom HeveziMichael Schumacher, above, helped eliminate Jimmie Johnson and Team USA from the Race of Champions Nation Cup in London.
with Marty Smith
Do you have a question for ESPN NASCAR analyst Marty Smith? Go to Smith's SportsNation page to submit your question or comment for Marty, and check back regularly for the column in which he will provide the answers.
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.