Promoter seeks pro boat racing


STAMFORD, Conn. (AP)-A promoter is trying to bring professional boat racing to the city’s shoreline, stirring up some opposition to the commercial use of a public area.

Grand Prix Connecticut LLC is seeking permission from Stamford’s Parks and Recreation Commission to host a two-day competition in September.

Spectators would pay $25 to view powerboats of between 17 feet and 19 feet racing at speeds of up to 140 mph. The event would be one of about a dozen stops the F1-ChampBoat Grand Prix Series plans to make across the country this year.

Organizer Anthony Romano said he hopes to draw 10,000 spectators, which is about one-third the number of people who typically flock to the same section of Stamford for annual Independence Day fireworks displays.

A similar ChampBoat race on the Connecticut River in Hartford last September was the first in New England.

Some Stamford officials and residents oppose limiting access to public parks to only those who pay admission. Romano said he is confident he will persuade neighbors, particularly those with waterfront property, to support the race.

“It’s a fun thing,” he said. “Every kid from every neighborhood house is going to be watching those boats and having a blast.”

Environmental issues would be addressed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which has to sign off on the event, Romano said.

Joseph Coppola, co-chairman of the Board of Representatives’ Parks and Recreation Committee, said city parks should not be rented out to conference centers or sports arenas.

“These boat races are clearly a business venture, and that clearly shouldn’t happen at our parks,” he said.

But Mayor Dannel Malloy said it would not be the first time the city has rented out a park to a private group or business.

AP-ES-01-28-07 1342EST