scorecardresearch Skip to main content

IndyCar must now deal with city’s Conservation Commission

City officials examined an IndyCar mockup last year.Michael Dwyer/AP/file 2015

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Friday that he is optimistic IndyCar race organizers would be able to hold their event in South Boston in September, despite new environmental concerns raised by the Boston Conservation Commission.

“I’m hoping to see it here Labor Day weekend,” Walsh told reporters at a morning event. “I think there’s a process now they can follow, and I think they have to follow that process and make their case.”

In a 4-to-1 vote this week, the commission, which has responsibility for protecting wetlands in the city, concluded that the route planned for the race travels through a 100-year flood zone, and that organizers had to apply for permits that consider the potential environmental impact of any construction.


Opponents of the race hailed the commission’s decision as a roadblock for a race they say will disrupt their neighborhood and damage the environment.

Race organizers said the ruling is likely to have minimal impact on their plans.

A spokesman for the race organizers said in a statement that they plan to appeal the commission’s decision to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“Recent amendments to the FEMA Flood Maps in March 2016 placed significant new areas in the city of Boston within the flood zone for the 100-year storm event,’’ said Harry-Jacques Pierre. “Preparation for [the race] requires minimal work in the new flood zone.’’

But Larry Bishoff, cochairman of the Coalition Against IndyCar Boston, applauded the decision.

“It was heartening to see that an independent commission stood up for an open, lawful process and took seriously our concerns about threats to the environment presented by this event,” Bishoff said in a statement.

The Grand Prix of Boston is slated to take place Sept. 2-4 on a 2.2-mile course around the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston.


Organizers began selling tickets in March.

The commission’s vote comes shortly after organizers and city and state officials reported they had resolved all outstanding issues, and that organizers could proceed with construction.

Walsh said the commission was simply following environmental regulations, and race organizers would have to follow the process, no matter how inconvenient.

“The rules are there for a reason,” he said. “You have to live by the rules and work by the rules. Clearly, if this was a year ago, it’s very different math. But unfortunately for IndyCar right now, they have to come up with how they are going to move forward.”

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.