No promises to Manfeild for Grand Prix
‘‘We are miles ahead of where we have been. ’’ Geoff Short
Free tickets for ratepayers helped boost crowd numbers at the New Zealand Grand Prix, but it wasn’t enough to lock in the event’s return to Manfeild next year.
The annual motorsport event, said to be the jewel in the New Zealand Motorsport crown, returned to Feilding over the weekend with the expectation of bumper crowds.
Promoters Speedworks went all out by offering free tickets to 45,000 ratepayers in Palmerston North and Manawatu¯ District.
About 5000 of the free tickets were redeemed, but promoter Geoff Short could not confirm how many were actually used on the weekend.
A wet Sunday afternoon may have played a role in attendance numbers, which were only a modest improvement on previous years.
Although the main grass embankment looked packed, its popularity was likely bolstered by the grandstand to the left of pit lane being replaced by additional pit garages.
Short said it was much better than what he has seen in the past.
‘‘We are miles ahead of where we have been, there is no doubt about that. It has got the potential to only but grow.’’
However, he was not willing to confirm the NZGP would be back at Manfeild next year, despite previous reports from New Zealand Motorsport suggesting the event would be hosted by the Feilding track until at least 2020.
‘‘The initial deal that I know about, that we have agreed to, was one year based on the funding and support and everything else. Now, it is just an assessment on how well the event went, how the community supported the event.
‘‘The potential is there for it to be here for the next couple of years, but it is no guarantee.’’
He was pleased with the support it had received from the local councils, he said.
Short said as of Saturday night, they had sold 8500 tickets, a figure that included free ratepayer tickets, competitor tickets and general ticket sales.
Manfeild chief executive Julie Keane was pleased with the crowd numbers, even when the rain started about midday on Sunday.
She believed the ratepayer tickets had been a success.
‘‘I saw a few people I know who had never been to a motorsport event.’’
Manfeild no longer help run the event.
About 8500 tickets to the Grand Prix were sold, including about 5000 free ratepayer tickets.