Mar 3, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has told Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper that a new contract to keep Formula One’s season opening race – the Australian Grand Prix – at its current home in Melbourne is close to being completed. The race has been held in the city’s Albert Park since the 1996 season.
When asked if a contract extension would soon be signed, Ecclestone told the Aussie publication: “Yes. Sure, sure, sure. As soon as we get the lawyers sorted.” The current contract runs through the 2015 season.
Ecclestone has long favored keeping the Australian round of his World Championship in Melbourne, mentioning last year that he wanted to have the city on the schedule for another 50 years.
The price tag for the event has gone north of $50 million, however, keeping the race centered in public debate over its worth.
And while the race’s chairman, Ron Walker, is confident that Albert Park will host the race through at least 2020, the local government wants those operating costs to be reduced by a noticeable margin.
For his part, Ecclestone believes that the money aspect has been taken care of.
“I think that’s all been sorted,” he said. “It’s just the bits and pieces. [A new deal] will happen…Ron and I know what we’re doing, which is important and then we get the rest of it all together.”
He added his hope that a new deal would be signed before this year’s season opener, saying “there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.”
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