Official: Grand Prix won't stay if it can't use Belle Isle

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A new proposal could keep the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle but while racing is excited, others are disappointed.

Thousands turn out every spring at the Detroit Grand Prix to watch Indy Cars speed around Belle Isle. 

But there are also people who oppose the race saying it doesn't belong in a public park. Those feelings were all heard Friday at a meeting as the Detroit Grand Prix laid out plans to keep it on the island. 

The agreement is up and Grand Prix officials made their pitch to keep the race in the D.

"It just doesn't belong in the park," said one activist. "It doesn't belong in a public park."

The opinions were mixed during a public meeting about the Grand Prix.

"We've got people coming here from all over the world," said one woman. "It used to be that Detroit was the murder capital, now they are saying Detroit is one of the best cities in the world."

"We're the Motor City, we should have a professional motor race in the city of Detroit," said Michael Montri, president of the Detroit Grand Prix." 

Montri and his team offered a 3-year deal starting in 2019 with a possible 2-year contract extension. They would pay 50 percent more to race on the island and $50,000 each year to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to improve the island. 

If they don't stay on the island, the race won't stay in Detroit.

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"Looks like," Montri said. "We are only interested in having the Grand Prix on Belle Isle."

The Michigan DNR will make the final call after looking at compatibility with the park, benefits, and environmental impact.

The new contract would also minimize the Grand Prix's time spent Belle Isle from 65 days to 62 days.

A special meeting is scheduled for August 2 when staff will review and discuss the DNR's preliminary decision. That will also be the public's final chance for comment.