The City of Emeryville is hoping to bring the growing sport of electric scooter racing to the streets of Emeryville. The eSkootr Championship Race series launched its debut season last year in Europe.
Circuit organizers ESC are looking to grow the fledgeling sport by bringing the series to U.S. cities. Emeryville is hoping to provide a boost to the local economy by drawing tourism as well as bring some notoriety to the small city.
eSkootr racing has quickly gained a following with its speed and intensity drawing comparisons to the Lightcycle races in the movie TRON. The S1-X eSkootr used in the races include twin 6 kW electric motors and can reach speeds of more than 60 MPH.
The inception for Emeryville hosting a race apparently came about on Twitter when Mayor John Bauters tweeted a snarky response to larger cities hosting Formula 1 races on their city streets. Bauters, despite being a car-owner himself, is not shy about bashing car culture on the platform. These tweets typically get enthusiastic responses by pro-bicycle and anti-car advocates boosting his profile among them.
The tweet caught the eye of eSkootr Championship series founder Khalil Beschir who replied back “name the date.”
Emeryville’s History of Competitive Racing
Hosting a racing event would be appropriate as Emeryville was once the center of this form of recreation in the East Bay. At various times in its history, Emeryville has had a horse racing track, a dog-racing track and a racing speedway that facilitated motorcycle and car racing.
A unique opportunity for the city … or another “Vanity Project” for Mayor Bauters?
Bauters requested the item be added to the agenda for discussion and the city authorized the execution of a non-binding “Letter of Intent” with the organizer at their November 1 meeting according to the city’s January progress report.
With the help of the City Attorney’s office, city staff worked to negotiate an Event Hosting Agreement. The agreement was presented to the City Council at their Feb. 7 meeting for discussion [42:00].
Total costs to host the event were estimated to be $1.5 million. The city would seek sponsorship commitments for at least half of these costs and have the opportunity to cancel the agreement within a designated timeframe if these sponsorships fail to materialize.
The city would expect to financially benefit from the event through revenue to our local hotels, shopping centers and restaurants. These revenues have all been hit hard by the pandemic and the shift to remote work and in need of a boost.
“This is a unique opportunity for the city. We don’t get many opportunities to host international events.”
— Dep. Director Community Development Chad Smalley
“This is a unique opportunity for the city,” noted Deputy Director of Community Development Chad Smalley. “We don’t get many opportunities to host international events. We don’t get many opportunities to host things that are nascent. [This] has the potential to be a big deal and something that is celebrated all around the world.”
ESC representative Richard Norton expressed excitement of the potential of establishing it as an annual event that would grow and be anticipated by the community.
Only a single member of the public commented on item saying it was an improper use of public funds and “clearly directed at to appeal to the vanity of the Mayor [Bauters].”
After council discussion, the hosting agreement was unanimously approved.
How the track would be oriented within the 1.2 square mile city has not been determined but would need to be solidified 60 days prior to the event.
If the city procures the necessary sponsorships and proceeds, the event would be held this fall (either September or October) and annually in 2024 & 2025.
Feature Image: ESC.live