The Grand Prix of Boston race is on a potential collision course with marketing firm HubSpot Inc. over the use of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center for Labor Day weekend in future years.
Cambridge-based HubSpot has already rented the complex for Labor Day weekend in 2018 and is wrapping up negotiations to return on that weekend for several years after that, bringing with it thousands of attendees and a slew of high-profile speakers.
The IndyCar race organizers, meanwhile, have an agreement with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to use the massive South Boston convention complex this Labor Day weekend and have indicated that they would like to return on that weekend in subsequent years. They argue that Labor Day weekend is ideal because many city residents are out of town for the holiday.
The 2.2-mile course circles the convention center, essentially preventing any other big events from taking place there during the race. Race organizers would also use the convention center to support the race.
As of now, there’s no official overlap between the two events. But if organizers for each want to continue using the convention center on Labor Day weekend, there would eventually be a conflict. Last September, HubSpot’s “Inbound” conference drew about 14,000 attendees to the convention center, and that number could grow in future years.
Here’s what the schedule looks like right now: Grand Prix of Boston is booked only for one Labor Day weekend, the one coming up. If the race goes well, organizers hope to return. Next year’s Labor Day is still available, according to a convention center spokesman.
HubSpot then has the place tied up for Labor Day 2018 and is close to signing an agreement to occupy the convention center on Labor Day weekends in 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023, the convention center spokesman said. (In 2017, the company has chosen another weekend for its conference, as it may also do in 2020.)
A HubSpot spokeswoman offered only a brief comment about the negotiations, saying: “We’re committed to not only growing the event in size but keeping it in Boston in the years to come.”
A spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh issued a short statement about the potential conflict: “We are focused on this year’s race.”
John Casey, president of Grand Prix of Boston, issued a statement saying that the race organizers are “aware of potential conflicts commencing in 2018.”
He said the organizers are also aware of construction projects in the neighborhood that could in future years get in the way of the race course by eliminating run-offs — the “overshoot areas” for IndyCar drivers to veer off the main course briefly if they can’t make a turn, to avoid crashing into a wall.
“Grand Prix of Boston has several contingencies in place for 2018,” Casey said. “Right now, our focus is on 2016. . . . It is our understanding that 2017, 2019, and 2020 have our names penciled in.”
The route, a spokesman said, may need to change in future years to accommodate construction along the existing course.
Bill Wagner, chief executive of race sponsor LogMeIn Inc., said he is less worried about availability on future Labor Day weekends than he is about making sure the race is financially viable. If that’s proven to be true, he said, another date could work fairly easily for 2018 and beyond.
Wagner said he’s optimistic, based on the healthy pace of early ticket sales for this year’s race.
“In the first two years, you know whether or not the economics work for all the parties,” Wagner said. “I think if we have a good first inaugural event and follow that up with a good sophomore year, I think you’re off and running.”