The Nürburgring: Where did it all go wrong?

Rad am Ring 2008

The mood for Nürburgring fans has become decidedly gloomy of late as bankruptcy has descended upon the Green Hell. So how did it all go wrong? German broadcaster Deutsche Welle provides the background with their article “The Nürburgring—from prestige project to catastrophe”.

Seeking to cash in on the Nürburgring’s growing appeal, NüroDisney brought promises of great riches for the small village of Nürburg and surrounds:

Plenty of VIPs from the worlds of politics, business, and motor sport were on hand on July 9th, 2009, as the shiny new pleasure park at the Nurbürgring in the Eifel region was opened to plenty of fanfare. In only two years, this imposing complex was raised from the ground in this remote part of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The former Formula 1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck was impressed, for one. “I think it’s great,” he told Deutsche Welle at the time. “The Eifel region, whose infrastructure is not as well developed, will definitely profit from it. It’s a courageous decision, and we all hope that it’ll pay off.”

Of course, we all know that it hasn’t paid off:

Now, on July 18, 2012, the final act of the Nürburgring drama seems to have begun. The European Commission in Brussels refused to grant the state of Rhineland-Palatinate the right to throw another 13 million euros into the project. The Nürburgring needed the money to survive six more months. Since the circuit now faces being unable to pay its bills at the end of the month, State Premier Kurt Beck has pulled the emergency brake and declared insolvency.

The article is worth reading in full (follow source link below) and paints a broader picture which may give you a better understanding of the issues surrounding the Nürburgring’s current plight.

[Source: Deutsche Welle | Pic: Paul Sweeney | Thanks to Ken for the tip]

UPDATE: Deutsche Welle has a new article online, “If you build it, they will come? The Nürburgring folly”, which sums up things quite nicely when it says:

Rhineland-Palatinate has always owned, and often subsidized, the Nürburgring race circuit. That is not out of the ordinary for racetracks. The idea is that motorsports events bring visitors to the region, and they spend money at local businesses and generate tax revenue. This practice is legal under EU anti-trust laws.

But by turning the Nürburgring into a leisure complex, suddenly it wasn’t so much helping local businesses as competing with them. When Brussels found out that the privately-run complex had received over 500 million euros in state aid, it ruled that this unfairly disadvantaged existing businesses in the region. Unable to continue supporting the track with his own government’s funds, Beck was left with no choice but to ask the EU for help instead.