Germany’s famed Nürburgring will enter insolvency proceedings. The Associated Press reports the racetrack/entertainment complex has been waiting on European Union approval of 13 million euros (about $16 million) in proposed government aid but is running out of cash and could be broke by the end of July. The situation is sufficiently critical that it has prompted the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which owns Nürburgring GmbH, to initiate bankruptcy proceedings. The AP quotes German news agency dapd (“Deutscher Auslands-Depeschendienst” or “German Foreign Dispatch Service”) as saying the decision came today.
Nürburgring Automotive GmbH, the company that handles events at the track, says it is not affected by the filing.
While the 13-mile Nordschleife track, used for racing and manufacturer testing, is making money, it’s not enough to cover the interest payments on the nearly 350 million euros in debt left over from a disastrous expansion plan. In 2004, two German developers, Kai Richter and Jörg Lindner, using inflated tourist and revenue projections, persuaded Rhine-Palatinate to build a huge complex including a mall, new car showrooms, hotels and an amusement park. The promised boom never materialized and the development has become an albatross on the state government and the track.
Nürburgring has been on life support since 2011, receiving a state subsidy to make payments on the debt. In addition, it has hiked ticket prices for fans and reportedly quintupled the fees it charges manufacturers for use of the Nordschliefe track.
According to “Save the Ring,” a grass-roots organization, the contract with Nürburgring Automotive GmbH, which is operated by Richter and Lindner and which the group claims was not paying the rents it owed to Nürburgring GmbH, was terminated earlier this year. The group also says the total debt is actually over 500 million euros.