Baltimore’s Grand Fish Story

Baltimore’s Grand Fish Story

They ran a Grand Prix through the streets of the Charm City recently and if you looked closely, some people say, those were dollars you saw spewing from the exhausts of those high performance engines. Those are the kinds of dollars that spread all throughout the downtown area to local establishments and small businesses. Soon, we’ll begin to hear the story of the economics of the IZOD Indy Car event. I’m told we should be interested in that story, the one about economics and racing.

However, the real story is not about the cars, the race, or even the dollars. It never is. It’s the picture of the Big Fish that Baltimore hooked. Did you see the picture? Oh, what picture you say?

You see, a mentor of mine once provided this valuable learning experience about sports business. He said, “have you ever walked into someone’s home or office and they show off their prized photo, you know, the one of the guy standing on the dock proudly holding the big fish at the end of the hook?

“Sure”, I said

He continued, “ now, have you ever had someone show you a picture of their 14 small fish on the same hook”

I said, “no, not ever”

“That’s just the point, it’s about the BIG catch. That is always the story that get’s talked about for days, weeks and maybe years. It’s a story that spreads”.

Baltimore just landed its newest Big Fish. Shall we just call it the “Baltimore Grand Fish”?

In the coming weeks and months, there will be a blizzard of facts and figures provided regarding the “impact” to the surrounding area from the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. Economic impact studies, attendance and spending estimates, you name it; we are bound to hear about it. Someone will proclaim the impact is” $50 million dollars”. Another will say, “No, it’s $65 million”. I can see the stand-off now, when those on each side of the issue present their respective studies. We might even be treated to dueling studies, You know, something like “White Papers at twenty paces?”

And none of it will matter. Not one single sheet of recycled paper will matter.

Sporting consumers don’t even read about the facts anymore. All of the feature and benefits statements go for naught. No one has the time anymore to digest any facts, for anything. For the lack of impact these studies may have, those that author them might be best to use the ink from the Harry Potter movies, the kind that transfigure anything written in it, to become invisible.

It’s the story. It’s what’s new, what’s fresh, what is today’s story?

No, what Baltimore had with the Grand Prix, were stories. Danica Patrick? Heck, she’s Taylor Swift in a Nomex fireproof racing suit. If you were in the Paddock where they work on the cars you might have witnessed what I mean. Little girls and boys, moms and dad in close quarter behind, hunting Danica for the elusive autograph. Danica passes the test of being certified by parents of being worthy of the wall poster. She is petite, well spoken and “made in the USA”, even without the label. Save for the time she has to play the role in those suggestive Go Daddy commercials, she’s family friendly. The crowd of moms and dads along the rope lines told me so.

I saw kids walking around with autographed parts of damaged race cars. And there are more stories just like those.

Those that are involved with the event would be wise to start telling, and re-telling those stories, right away, today, not this winter or next spring. Don’t wait for the impact studies to land on someone’s desk.

Looking ahead, stay tuned; we will all be eagerly waiting to see if someone can articulate just where those dollars all landed as they exited from the exhaust of the IZOD Indy Cars as they charged toward HarborPlace.

I won’t be listening or reading. I will be too consumed collecting fish stories.

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