August 7, 2003
MONTREAL - Montreal's Formula One Grand Prix has been dropped from the 2004 schedule because of the impact of federal anti-tobacco legislation, a race organizer announced Thursday.
Normand Legault said he received the news in a letter from Formula One organizers.
The legislation was announced in 1997 and Legault told a news conference the Montreal race has had a seven-year grace period before tobacco sponsors had to be dropped. Legault said organizers made their decision based on the legislation.
"It was basically made in light of the Oct. 1 application of Canada and Quebec's anti-tobacco legislation," he told a news conference.
"So basically what that means for next June's event is that Michael Schumacher's Ferrari could not sport Marlboro's colours and Jacques Villeneuve's car could not have Lucky Strike on it."
He said the decision will hurt the city because the weekend event in June has drawn crowds of more than 300,000.
"There's an important economic impact," Legault said. "There will be an important negative impact on Montreal's tourism."
Bill Hurley, owner of Hurley's Irish Pub, a popular downtown drinking establishment, said not having a race "certainly is going to be a blow to Montreal."
"I think it's a terrible decision," Hurley said in an interview.
"Formula One week and weekend is our busiest week and weekend in the summer months. Being an Irish pub, we're busy more in the winter, fall and spring but we always look forward to Formula One.
"Not only that, the people who come up here are great, and every year we look forward to seeing the same folks who have been coming up for the years it's been here.
"They come up for the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix has a large following, usually of people with quite a large disposable income.
"But, obviously, if there's no Grand Prix, they won't be coming up. It really would be a shame."