NEWCASTLE businesses have been promised “an unprecedented amount of additional business opportunity and economic benefit” when the Supercars roll into town on November 24.
However, the response from Newcastle’s business community to the first Newcastle 500 has been mixed.
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is one business gearing up for the expected windfall.
When the first round of tickets went on sale at the Supercars family day, held on the foreshore in April, turnover at the pie stand doubled.
“If that’s any indication it’s looking good for us,” business owner Dave Nicholls said. “We will have extra seating and tables, increased storage and a cool room.”
Accommodation businesses have also reported strong trade. Newcastle Executive Apartments is booked out, general manager Dominic Grundy said.
“We have taken lots of bookings and very early,” he said. “It’s a great event. There has been an extraordinary amount of interest.”
Hunter Street’s The Crown and Anchor Hotel licensee Jacqueline Brown said she expected to do good trade during the race and would be ordering extra stock to cover the event.
However, several East End businesses said they were still unsure how they would operate during the race days.
The Grain Store owner and licensee Corey Crooks said he would be taking a “suck it and see” approach.
He said the race would be good for Newcastle, but was “still a bit of an unknown”. He has applied to extend his licensed area so he can trade on the street.
“If we don’t get it, it’s probably not worth being open,” he said.
He also said the cost of doing business during the race would be higher, one factor being restrictions relating to the hours that stock could be delivered due to the racetrack lock-down.
A second business located close to track-side, whose owner did not want to be named, said it was unsure of how it would manage the challenges of restocking outside of usual delivery hours.
Supercars said restocking would have to occur before 6.30am on race days and could not yet say when evening access could be granted.
Many of the businesses the Newcastle Herald spoke to complained of a lack of detailed information from Supercars about how the event would affect their business. Some businesses saw no benefit in opening during the days of the race.
Suki Hairdressing managing director Sandy Chong said she would be forced to close the doors of the Ocean Street salon on what were usually the strongest trading days of the year in the lead up to Christmas and New Year.
“It will be gridlocked. Our customers won’t be able to find parks,” she said.
She said a meeting between herself and Supercars held last month was unhelpful because they could not answer questions on how her clients would access the salon.
A spokesperson from Supercars said a traffic and transport plan would soon be finalised.
The T&G building, on the corner of Hunter and Bolton Streets, houses 38 office suits.
Doctor Cheng Smart, director of Cedtoy, the company which owns the building, said the event would cause problems for her tenants, who comprised lawyers, accountants, architects and engineers.
Tenants are still unsure whether they will be able to open on the first day of the race, November 24.
“Parking is a real problem, and the matter of noise,” Dr Smart said. “From my point of view there will be difficulty accessing the premises.”
She said there had not been enough “detailed consideration” of the impact the race would have on business not linked to tourism and hospitality. Her tenants were yet to decide whether they would open.
The Family Court of Australia, in Bolton Street, will not hold hearings on November 24 due to the “likely disruption and noise levels”, a spokesperson said.
Supercars acknowledged the event would create some disruption but claimed it had “overwhelming support for the event”.
“We are working our way around every business within the precinct and should have this completed in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said.
Supercars said civil works would also provide hundreds of additional jobs over the period. In addition, 12 local businesses had been contracted, mostly in the food and beverage area, and more than 300 locals would work at the event.