The fast-changing situation regarding how various cities, counties and states were reacting to the coronavirus pandemic this week forced Green Savoree and the mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Kriseman to swiftly alter the status of the event.
On Wednesday, March 11, they confirmed the Grand Prix was still on, on Thursday they declared it would be held but without spectators allowed, while on Friday, after a couple of practice sessions for the support race series, and just before President Trump declared a national emergency, the event was canceled altogether.
IndyCar announced simultaneously that the races at Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach and Circuit of The Americas had also been canned. However, earlier in the day, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach had been postponed anyway due to LA County ruling out group gatherings of more than 500 people. The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach CEO and president Jim Michaelian retains some hope of rescheduling later in the year.
Since then, ZOOM Motorsports, which promotes the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber, has revealed that it intends to send refunds for most types of ticket within 7 and 10 business days, but Green Savoree has faced heat on social media for not making a similar offer regarding GP St. Petersburg refunds.
A statement issued by GSRP reads: “Ticket purchasers on file for the March 13-15, 2020 event may choose to defer their purchased tickets for use at the March 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Alternatively, ticket purchasers may elect to receive a credit for the full amount paid plus an additional 10% to apply toward future Green Savoree Racing Promotion events, including, but not limited to, grandstand seating, general admission, camping, RV space, paddock access and pit passes at either the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Honda Indy Toronto or Grand Prix of Portland.
“This 110% credit can be used in a single transaction during the remainder of the 2020 or 2021 season subject to availability.
“Ticket holders will receive detailed instructions, and next steps via email Friday March 20, 2020. Thank you for your continued patience. We look forward to racing on the streets of St. Petersburg March 2021!”
The flak on Twitter for @GPStPete did not take long to hit – from the simple, “There needs to be a refund option,” to more angry ones declaring the lack of refunds as “unethical” and “disgraceful” and a couple even threatening legal action.
“I will not be going to this race in 2021 and any other Green Savoree Racing Promotions event in 2020. You owe us our money back,” was typical of the sentiment.
International fans also expressed their annoyance.
“This is a disgrace!” wrote one. “I flew from Australia to watch this event. When an event is cancelled you refund a ticket. I cannot just turn up again next year... Wtf! F1 and MOTOGP would never pull this amateur hour cowboy s***. Its an embarrassment to INDYCAR!”
A minority chose to roll with the punches, however.
“Just wanted to let you know we are letting our tickets roll to next year. We have NEVER missed a race and will be there in 2021.”
A reply from a would-be St. Pete spectator to one of the outraged fans pointed out the terms and conditions printed on the back of the ticket. They read:
I am not entitled to a refund, replacement ticket, or other event admission material, or to payment for any damages of any kind for any reason from IndyCar or GSSP or Andersen including, without limitation, lost/damaged ticket, cancellation, shortening, rescheduling, or other alteration of the event. All sales are final – no money refunded or exchanges.
Since Michaelian is still trying to find a way to slot the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach into the IndyCar schedule later in the year, “further details about possible refunds or credits will be forthcoming.” Regarding ticket holders for the COTA race, there has been no official announcement from the track but Motorsport.com has requested further details.