Despite economic forecasts predicting a sixth consecutive year of recession and having to slash billions of euro in budget spending, Greece’s development ministry has authorised a 28.9 million euro subsidy to build an international-standard race track, Bloomberg reported.
The track could be used to stage Formula 1 races, but other events as well, including world championship motorbike racing and go-kart racing, according to the report. It is to be built in Xalandritsa near the port city of Patras on the Peloponnese peninsula.
The total cost of the project is 94.6 million euro and it is overseen by a private investment company, according to the report.
The calendar of annual Formula 1 races has expanded dramatically over the past decade, but new entrants have been mostly from cash-rich Persian Gulf states (Bahrain and Abu Dhabi) or big countries seeking to gain a strong foothold in one of the most popular global sports (China and India), even as well-established European race tracks have struggled to make enough money to pay the participation fees.
While Greece may be successful in building a track fit for Formula 1, it remains unclear whether it could hold down a place on the busy Formula 1 calendar.
(Even neighbouring Turkey, which has navigated the global economic downturn much better than Greece, has been forced to drop out of the 2012 Formula 1 calendar after a seven-year run. Photo of Istanbul Park race track by Homonihilis/Wikimedia Commons).