(MICHIGAN CITY, IN) - The annual powerboat racing that brings more than 100,000 people to Michigan City’s lakefront has been canceled by COVID-19.
Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said preparing for such a major event scheduled July 30 to August 2 was simply impossible given the huge amount of unknowns. “We felt there were too many moving parts to be able to say with all of this uncertainty we could direct a safe event,” he said.
A record 212,000 people last year went to the Great Lakes Grand Prix and related events like the boat parade on Franklin St. and Taste of Michigan City in the Uptown Arts District. An estimated $13.6 million was generated for the local economy.
Not having the Great Lakes Grand Prix is another blow to the tourism industry already devastated from bans and restrictions on restaurants, hotels, casinos, and traveling. A gradual reopening of the state’s economy started Monday. However, Arnett said a further loosening of restrictions hinges on the future number of COVID-19 cases and there are no guarantees for hotels that need to start making rooms available for the race even before the start of the pandemic.
The Great Lakes Grand Prix is part of a series of races featuring boats traveling up to 200 per hour. The competition mostly in Florida is sanctioned by Powerboat P1 which already canceled races scheduled to be held prior to the one in Michigan City.
Arnett said the racing teams have members in five continents and restrictions on international travel to limit the global spread of the virus added further doubt to being able to pull off the race and doing so without risking anyone’s health. “It’s just too big of an event to try and have with a big cloud hanging over us this late,” he said.