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Early Grand Prix of St. Petersburg dates play havoc with downtown facilities' schedules

By Charlie Frago

A Dali Museum official told the City Council Thursday that the earlier dates for next year's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg have played havoc with weddings and other planned events. 

"This is something that has caused a lot of turmoil. Not only for business owners, but for people who have planned major life events," said Brian Iacofano, the museum's director of facilities. 

On Thursday, IndyCar officially announced next year's event for March 11-13.

Although the change was announced about eight months before the event, it isn't enough lead time to plan events like weddings and other logistically complex events, Iacofano said.

Council member Karl Nurse said the Mahaffey Theater and the Florida Orchestra has also been adversely affected. 

"There are several events that are going to be turned upside down as a result of this," Nurse said. 

The Mahaffey has booked and paid entertainers who will now have to agree to be rescheduled without "dinging" the theater for money. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club has also been hurt, he said.

"When you look at all the venues, it's several hundred thousand dollars," Nurse said.

Nurse said the city needs a full year's notice for a race schedule. 

Council member Amy Foster said the city should amend its race contract to require sufficient notice. 

The city has tried to do just that, but has been unsuccessful so far, said City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch.