30,000 tickets sold for the Formula E event in Vancouver in 100 days: organizers

Organizers plan to make E-Fest a “major event” in Vancouver’s annual calendar. But there is still a lot of work to do before the checkered flag flies.

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With a hundred days to go before Vancouver’s first Formula E event, organizers say early ticket sales have been brisk, but there is still work to be done before what they describe as the first event of its kind for the world of electric car racing.

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During the Canada Day long weekend this year, Vancouver will host the electric car event called Canadian E-Fest, which joins other destinations such as Berlin, Rome, Monaco and New York on the Formula E Championship calendar.

“I just got a call from Formula E this morning and they can’t believe we’ve sold so many tickets in three months,” said Anne Roy, co-founder and partner of One Stop Strategy Group, or OSS, the company , which promotes and organizes the E-Fest. “For all other races, tickets are sold at the last minute.”

On Wednesday in Montreal, 101 days before race day, Roy said more than 30,000 tickets were sold. The suites were “nearly sold out,” she said, “so we may have to build additional hospitality suites.”

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E-Fest in Vancouver will stand out from other Formula E races because it focuses on creating an entire “festival weekend,” Roy said. In addition to racing, E-Fest on Saturday, July 2 will also include a sustainability business conference, an e-sports tournament and live music, with the rockers Nickelback announcing last month.

But getting to this point hasn’t been easy, especially during COVID-19, Roy said. “It’s a lot of work though, I gotta tell you… It didn’t go well.”

But now Roy says: “Everything is on course.”

The event has been in the works for years, but now it’s time for some details to fall into place.

Vancouver confirmed this week that the city and organizers of the event signed an “event agreement” in February. The city’s Special Events Department has not yet granted approval for the race or any of its components including the Nickelback concert, the city confirmed, but would seek approval after organizers submitted several planning documents, including a safety plan, a traffic management plan, a community service agreement and the licensing of outdoor concerts. Contractually, these and other documents are due 95 days before the event, i.e. Monday, March 28, the city announced.

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“The issuance of a special events permit is conditional on these documents being presented, reviewed and approved by the city’s Film and Special Events Office,” the city’s statement said this week. “Planning complex events requires more effort in the first year and the city is closely monitoring progress and is in frequent contact with the organizer to ensure everything is in place in time for the event.”

Roy is an auto racing veteran who was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2020. She spent 20 years in the IndyCar Series, including the Molson Indy Vancouver races that took some of the world’s best drivers to some of the same parts of East False Creek in the 1990s and 2000s.

Roy says Vancouver residents should be assured that this year’s E-Fest will not repeat the problems of the 2017 Formula E event in Montreal, which became a major political issue and a controversy. The City Inspector General reported in 2018 that former Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre ignored legal advice and circumvented the rules to bring the Formula E event to the city.

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Many Montrealers were frustrated with the mayor about the 2017 event, columnist for the City of Montreal Gazette wrote Allison Hanesand later that year “had their say at the ballot box” by electing Coderre’s rival, current mayor Valérie Plante.

Plante described the Montreal ePrix as “financial fiasco‘ and canceled the next two planned years, prompting the Formula E group to sue the mayor and city for $33 million, The Gazette reportswith the city settling in July 2021 for $3 million.

Roy, who worked on the Formula E Montreal event after Coderre’s office hired her as a race consultant, said the difference between the 2017 Formula E Montreal event and the 2022 Vancouver event is that this year ” the deal between OSS and Formula E stands”.

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“Formula E has not made a direct deal with the city (Vancouver). Because if that were the case, the city of Formula E would have had to pay a huge amount to get this event,” said Roy. “The money comes out of our pockets, we are the ones paying for it. So I think Vancouver is pretty lucky to have a big event like this for free.”

The City of Vancouver has confirmed that it is not an official partner of E-Fest.

When the city council discussed the prospect of a Formula E event Meeting in April 2021, city councilors and employees discussed the importance of ensuring Vancouver was financially safe. The council approved a motion tabled by an independent council. Sarah Kirby-Yung directing city staff to work with OSS Group to make the July 2022 Formula E event possible, with “expenses to be borne by event organizer and all city service costs reimbursed by event organizer.”

The vision is to create “more than just a race,” says Roy. “The plan is to make this a regular event on the Vancouver calendar every year.”

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