Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Canadian Grand Prix
The Winter Olympics, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Scotties Tournament of Hearts, The Brier, The Masters, The Grey Cup, The Super Bowl ... all staples on a typical Canadian sports fans viewing schedule. Often, most of these events are watched by people who won't pay any attention to the sport at any other time. They simply watch it because everyone else is and they want to be a part of a big show.
So why is it that when Canada hosts one of the largest sporting events in the world, there is only minimal coverage of it in our country? This upcoming weekend, Formula One makes the trip across the ocean to Montreal where they will race on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
In 2005, the Canadian Grand Prix was the most watched Formula One Grand Prix in the world. The race was also the 3rd most watched sporting event on the planet. Only the Super Bowl and UEFA Champions League Final took in more viewers.
With viewer figures on par with the Olympics and the World Cup of Soccer, each Formula One race attracts a global audience of around 600 million people per race. Reaching 200 countries, the cumulative television audience for a race season has been calculated at 54 billion people.
Is racing boring? Why watch cars driving for two hours? What does it matter? Well to the citizens of Montreal it matters to the tune of $89 million in economic impact! After losing the race for a season due to contract disputes with Formula One, all parties involved gave their heads a shake and agreed that the race needed to return to the Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal.
All three levels of government each put in millions of dollars to ensure the event would return to Montreal for the next few years. With hotel rooms jammed full and visitors from all over the world packing every restaurant and bar, downtown Montreal will be partying all-week long.
My guess is though, apart from some spotty coverage, you will hear little about it in the rest of Canada. ...Or perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised this year!
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