Big stars mean big budget for returning Racers’ Grand Prix
THE RETURN of the Racers’ Grand Prix not only brings star-studded talent but according to founder and head coach Glen Mills, the hope is it will also attract more high-level sponsors to support the endeavour.
Mills was speaking at yesterday’s press conference for the meet which will take place on June 3, the first time it will be staged since the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the event into a three-year hiatus.
Among the high-profile stars confirmed to compete include world 200m champion Noah Lyles, world 200m champion Shericka Jackson, former World and Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk and World 100m hurdles champion and record holder Tobi Amusan.
With the acclaimed lineup of world-class athletes also comes the task of meeting their budget given the high-class nature of the event, something that is not lost on Mills, despite his excitement of bringing the event back, a World Athletics Continental Tour silver meet.
“We are happy we can come back but we have our worry if we are getting the funding, which we are still working on. Because of the standard and the quality of the meet, the high-level athletes want to come because the climate is right, and the crowd and so on. The organisation is such that they know that they do not have to worry about getting hurt or bad organisation or being left at the airport,” Mills said.
The meet, which started in 2016, has attracted the likes of Olympic and World champion, Mo Farah, as well as featured Usain Bolt’s final race on Jamaican soil in 2017. Demand from overseas competitors has been high but Mills said they need to maintain a balance in order not to stretch themselves.
“Everybody is looking forward to coming to a meeting of this nature. Its popularity and the fame of it is worldwide. If you follow the four years we have had it, we have never been short of high-level people. We have to have a high number of locals to cut costs. Because if we were to bring in too many foreigners, the airfare and the accommodations would kill us,” Mills said.
As a World Continental Tour Silver level event, the Racers’ Grand Prix must offer a total prize money purse of US$75,000 (J$11,287,477) as per World Athletics Continental Tour regulations.
Mills said he hopes yesterday’s launch will be the catalyst for meeting their requirements with Sports Minister Olivia Grange offering financial assistance to make up any shortfall.
“We have not attained our budget but we are hoping that the press conference and the people involved will draw more sponsors in the next two to three weeks to come on board. If there is a shortfall, the minister has assured us that she will do her best to help us, so wherever the shortfall is, she will try to help us raise additional funds. She has always come to our rescue, so we are not worried,” Mills said.
Grange said at the press conference that the ministry was committing $20 million to the meet and hopes other partners will come on board.