The Motorland Aragon circuit is seeking a 15% cut in the cost of organizing the Aragon round of MotoGP. According to the regional newspaper El Periodico de Aragon, the government of the autonomous region of Aragon, who finance the circuit, are in an advanced stage of negotiations with Dorna to cut the sanctioning fee for the event. The cuts were necessary as a result of the dire economic situation in Spain, and the strain that is placing on the budgest of the autonomous regions.
The government of Aragon is scheduled to pay 49.7 million euros for the contract with Dorna for the privilege of organizing the race through 2016. The 15% reduction could save the regional government over 6 million euros over the next five years. Though Dorna has agreed in principle to the cuts, according to El Periodico de Aragon, the current sticking points are the exact percentage of the reduction, and whether the fee will be reduced for the 2012 race, or whether it will only be applied from next season onwards.
Reducing sanctioning fees is an unusual step for Dorna to take - they usually only move in the opposite direction - but the economic situation in Spain and the subsequent dire financial straights that the many tracks around the country find themselves in mean that circuits are not able to bear the usual sanctioning fees charged by Dorna. Though Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has said repeatedly that four races in Spain are too many, it is still a crucial market for MotoGP. The Barcelona race is under threat from budget cuts by the Catalonian government, the Valencia circuit faces similar problems - despite having resurfaced the track just recently - and the Jerez circuit finds itself technically in administration. The Aragon regional government is keen to keep the race at the Motorland Aragon circuit, near Alcañiz in the economically hard-hit region of Baja Aragon, because of the money it brings into the region, both directly, in terms of fans attending the race, and indirectly, by promoting the region as a destination for tourism. But the regional government also faces criticism, as for citizens hit directly by school and hospital closures, accepting spending which brings intangible benefits such as promoting the region as a tourist destination is hard to swallow.
What effect the news that Aragon is negotiating a cut in sanctioning fee remains to be seen. No doubt other troubled tracks will take note in their future negotiations with Dorna, with the Sachsenring, Assen and Brno among the tracks who have publicly stated they have trouble breaking even with the current level of fees.