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AG threatens litigation over IndyCar refunds

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.Steven Senne/Associated Press

State Attorney General Maura Healey has given the parties connected to a failed Boston IndyCar race a week to come up with a plan to reimburse ticket buyers — or she will speed ahead with litigation.

Healey has subpoenaed documents from Boston Grand Prix, a local entity that sold thousands of tickets for a planned IndyCar race in the Seaport, and from the national IndyCar organization, according to a Healey spokeswoman.

The AG is seeking records to help figure out who bought tickets, where the ticket money went, and why it wasn’t all returned when the race was canceled in April.


On Wednesday, at Healey’s invitation, representatives from Boston Grand Prix and IndyCar made a pit stop at the Office of the Attorney General, where they were told to collectively develop a plan to repay ticket buyers, many of whom say they are out hundreds of dollars, or more.

The attendees at the meeting included: John Casey, manager, Boston Grand Prix LLC; Michael Murphy, a lawyer representing Casey; Michael Goldberg and Edward Colbert, lawyers for Boston Grand Prix; Stephen Starks, vice president of promoter relations for IndyCar; and IndyCar’s lawyer, Angela Krahulik, according to Healey’s office.

Healey’s office will file civil litigation if the parties fail to come up with a reasonable payback plan, according to her office.

Casey, reached Thursday afternoon by phone, said lawyers for the parties are “dialoguing aggressively,” and he believes they will come up with a viable plan.

The deadline to respond to the attorney general’s subpoenas is June 27.

Boston Grand Prix confirmed last week, through its lawyer, that it was out of money after giving back about $400,000 to ticket holders.

“Boston Grand Prix regrets any inconvenience to its ticket holders due to the cancellation of the 2016 race, which resulted from circumstances beyond the company’s control,” Boston Grand Prix said in a statement June 9. “Refunding ticket holders is a first priority for BGP, and the company is working diligently with all parties involved to provide refunds. As funds become available, they will be forwarded . . . for processing of refunds.”


ESPN reported in April that organizers had sold more than 20,000 tickets. General admission tickets were priced at $99 for a three-day pass, and reserved grandstand tickets were priced at $150 to $205, according to figures released by Grand Prix of Boston in March.

Boston’s inaugural IndyCar race had been scheduled for Labor Day weekend, on a 2.2-mile temporary street course around the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

It would have been a new event for Boston, and planning for the race started with fanfare after Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed an agreement in May 2015 for up to five annual IndyCar races in the Seaport.

But the planning hit a wall this spring. Casey announced April 29 that the race promoters would abandon Boston, amid clashes between promoters and the city. Casey accused the city of making unreasonable demands; the city, in response, suggested the race promoters were disorganized.

The defunct race has already resulted in one lawsuit. IndyCar sued the Boston Grand Prix in May for alleged breach of contract.

A number of ticket holders who did not receive refunds have filed consumer complaints with Healey’s office. Some ticket buyers have said they initiated chargebacks on their credit cards.


Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.