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Formula E ticket sales were known immediately after race: Montreal auditor general

Former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre was repeatedly asked how many tickets had been sold to the Formula E race.
Former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre was repeatedly asked how many tickets had been sold to the Formula E race. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

In her report released Tuesday, Montreal’s auditor general Michèle Galipeau says that organizers of the controversial Formula E race knew exactly how many tickets had been sold the day after the event.

In 2017, then mayor Denis Coderre was regularly asked how many tickets had been bought for the electric car race.

READ MORE: Coderre administration ignored advice, skirted rules to hold Formula E race

At the time, the estimates were close to 25,000 tickets — but in reality it was closer to 13,000.

At a press conference Tuesday, Galipeau laid out other problems with the race — including that there didn’t seem to be a business argument for holding the event.

Her report states there was “no business case presenting a description of the project, the issues and risks involved and the overall costs was submitted to the authorities.”

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READ MORE: Montreal mayor won’t rule out legal action against Denis Coderre over Formula E fallout

The city also treated the race like a series of smaller events instead of grouping it under one project.

That approach made it hard to keep track of who was in charge, she said, and created a situation where many decisions went through the mayor’s office.

Galipeau says the administration should have followed the project monitoring rules set out for projects worth $10 million or more.

“They lacked transparency when they considered the project but the lessons learned, they should use it,” said Galipeau.

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In January, Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration announced it was cancelling future Formula E races.

The organizers of the race are now suing the city of Montreal for $33 million for breaking its contract.

READ MORE: Montreal mayor cancels Formula E over cost overruns, sponsorship woes