CHICAGO (WLS) -- When city officials announced in October the NASCAR street race would return in July 2024, Mayor Johnson promised it would be a better deal for the city. NASCAR officials said they are helping to fulfill that promise.
Despite a near-rainout that shortened NASCAR's first ever city street race and cancelled several planned concerts, officials said downtown Chicago turned out to be an ideal showcase and they are committed to staying here.
"In spite of the rain this was tremendously successful. It showcased the city," said Julie Giese of NASCAR Chicago Street Race.
To that end, NASCAR officials said they already promised to shorten the setup time for the race by six days in order to keep downtown streets open as long as possible. But they have now also promised to increase their payment to the city by a flat $2 million for this year's race.
"It's a step in the right direction, but remember, NASCAR negotiated favorable terms. The Lightfoot administration got taken to the cleaners on this deal," said 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins.
Hopkins and several city council colleagues have been critical of the race and the inconvenience to residents for several weeks, including over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Ald. Bill Conway said he's not sure $2 million is enough to cover the city's costs, and it's only a handshake agreement.
"If your'e gonna do a multimillion dollar deal as a municipality you should get that in writing so everyone knows the terms," he said.
NASCAR officials said they are fully committed to the city. They pointed out the estimated $109 million in economic impact from race weekend, along with international media exposre for the race.
"It's important this is an event that's beneficial to everyone. It's a great opportunity to showcase Chicago, the beauty of it," said Giese.
City officials said some of the improvements they made last year to the streets and sidewalks should be one-time expenses, which should lower costs for the city going forward. This year's race is scheduled for July 6 and 7.