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Samaras to personally take up the construction of a Formula 1 track

07 June 2013 / 16:06:14  GRReporter
7837 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The idea of building a Formula 1 racing track in Greece was born two years ago. Since then, the initiator and author of the project – architect Athanasios Papatheodorou and Lucas Tzanis, mayor of the municipality of Drapetsona - Keratsini, where the area is located, have been trying to convince the public authorities in Greece of the revenue from its implementation. According to the project, the track will be built on the area of a former industrial zone. A plant for the production of fertilizers operated there in the past but the area is desolate nowadays.

Those involved in the project met in Athens last night in order to remind the competent institutions that they need to act very quickly.

"I was in my office when the secretary informed me that architect Athanasios Papatheodorou was waiting for me outside. I did not know him. When he came in, he looked very tired from the various bureaucratic procedures he had faced to reach me. He told me about his idea and after the first five minutes, I was convinced that the track may be a new opportunity for development of our declining municipality," says the mayor.
In his words, the crisis has seriously affected the great majority of the inhabitants of the coastal municipality that is located next to Piraeus and the project would give new life to the region. "One-tenth of our citizens are eating in kitchens offering free lunches, 4-5 percent each week receive free food from the church and various charities, and 20 to 25 percent are illegally connected to the power distribution network or light candles in their houses because they are not able to pay the bills, which are inflated because of the tax. The majority of the residents are former workers in shipyards and they have been unemployed for several years already. If the construction of the track starts, these people will have a job for 2-3 years at least," states the mayor.

However, these are only the first and direct benefits of the project. "Big cruise ships dock right across our coastal area. The track will certainly contribute to the development of tourism," Lucas Tzanis adds, stressing that the local community fully supports the project.

The main motive in both his and the statements of other supporters of the idea is that it should be taken to heart at the highest possible level. "The main problem is not to find an investor but to prepare everything for the start of construction, when the investor comes here. No one will come here to invest their money if faced with a large number of bureaucratic obstacles associated with land expropriation and the like," says Stelios Logothetis, former mayor of Piraeus. He did not hesitate to criticize the view that the construction of the track would harm other plans related to the establishment of a sea shipping centre. "One of the things does not exclude the other one. Both projects can be operated in parallel," he stresses, giving the example of the unsuccessful attempt of creating a shipping centre in Piraeus several years ago.

The idea of building a racing track in Greece dates back to the past. Vassilis Despotopoulos, former president of the Greek Automobile Club and a member of the World Motor Sport Council,  talked about the various attempts that had begun back in 1950 but none of which was successful.

According to the report of the Deloitte auditing company, the track in Drapetsona must be built to attract a great number of visitors, not only in the days of the next stage of the championship but also at other times. "An example of this is the track in Abu Dhabi - Yas Marina Circuit, where a Ferrari theme park has been created and its expansion continues with the construction of luxury houses and hotels. They attract visitors throughout the year.

Another example is the track in Monaco. The people there rely less on the revenue from the days of the race and more on the money that will come during the other days. They use Formula 1 to show Monaco to the world and then, everyone wants to go there to experience the luxury, to organize a convention there."

"Motor sports have a tradition in Greece," states Theodoros Haragionis, founder and owner of the car museum in Athens. He spoke about the successful participation of Greeks in various car races over the years, some of whom continue to do so at present as well. According to the businessman, Greece could follow the example of Malaysia, which has become a brand name for organizing one of the stages of elite motor racing. Haragionis stresses that Greece has the experience of organizing the Olympic Games in 2004, when the projects were implemented following the fast track method, which could be successfully applied in the project of the track too.

Tags: SportsFormula 1DrapetsonaPiraeusProjectAntonis SamarasBernie Ecclestone
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