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‘It’s the pits’: Firestone Grand Prix kicks off today with no fans

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ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Firestone Grand Prix kicks off in St. Petersburg on Friday morning.

The city gave the green light to the race, but waved the red flag for fans. Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Thursday that no spectators will be allowed along the track, and that all the family-friendly events surrounding the race were canceled.

More than 160,000 people were expected to attend the three-day event. No fans means no financial gain for vendors.

Speaking with 8 On Your Side, vendors described the situation as “the pits.”

“It’s pretty terrible,” said Jason Reed, who said he is losing about 10% of his yearly revenue due to the cancellation.

“We came down here to make a decent amount of money that would set us up for the rest of the summer and that’s not going to happen now,” Reed continued.

A security guard told us he had to break the news to fans who flew all of the way from Sweden. Now they will have to watch the race on TV at a local bar.

A fan from Canada has other plans, to watch from the water.

“We can watch the race from the boat, so we’re still here,” said Brett Rushlow.

There are 13 races from Friday to Sunday. Practice starts Friday at 8:00 am and the first official race starts just after 5:00 pm.

The race will also be streamed on NBC Sports.

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