UPDATE: It turns out the Farmers Market is ON for Sept. 4th...
I, for one, have been giving the Baltimore Grand Prix the benefit of the doubt.
Ever since the event, scheduled for Labor Day Weekend, was announced, it has meant significant headaches for Baltimoreans, particularly from the extensive construction around Pratt Street and the inevitable traffic tie-ups that resulted. There is also the significant investment in infrastructure the city is making in order to accommodate the IndyCars that will roam Pratt, Russell, and Light Streets—some think the money could be better spent amid a budget crisis. But the dollars that will come form thousands of tourists coming to town for the nationally televised event—and the hopes that it will become a regular spectacle—have, up to now, have convinced me that the race is a good thing for Baltimore.
But today brings news that the event will mean even more pain and inconvenience for local people and businesses. Over the weekend, word came down that beginning this morning at 5am, Conway Street—a major artery to and from the city—would be shut down entirely for two weeks for more Grand Prix-related construction. Today comes more disappointing news, that the Baltimore Farmers Market, held under the JFX every Sunday, will have to shut down Labor Day weekend—one of its most popular—to accommodate the race. As Richard Gorelick points out, the move will particularly hurt the farmers, who are understandably angry that city apparently didn't even try to relocate the market, which might've greatly lessened the economic hardship.
Now, I'm beginning to wonder if the Grand Prix will prove to be worth all of the hassle. It's a sentiment echoed all over town, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (pictured here, announcing the race), who pushed hard to bring the Grand Prix to Baltimore, had better hope that that the event is truly the transcendent, lucrative experience we've been promised. Or else she'll have some tough questions to answer—something she no doubt would like to avoid in this election year. Read about all of this and more in a big story we're working, about the planning behind the Baltimore Grand Prix in the August issue of Baltimore.
[photo courtesy of Press Box]