Hockenheimring, the Aquadrom and construction projects.
Hockenheim. Today, Thursday, Lord Mayor Marcus Zeitler (44) takes stock of his first three months in office in the town hall at 7 p.m. He had already spoken to RNZ about his start in the racing city and his plans for the next year.
Mr. Zeitler, you have been Lord Mayor of Hockenheim since the beginning of September. Have you already regretted it?
No not at all. I like going to the office and my work is incredibly fun.
A broken street in Schönau looks just like a broken street in Hockenheim. And the mother, who can’t get a kindergarten place here, turns just as hollow as a woman from Schönau who can’t get a childcare place. The finances are just as difficult to regulate in Hockenheim as in Schönau. At Hockenheim, the dimensions are different, but the problems are the same.
Did you want too much too quickly?
I wanted to be closer to the switch to double housekeeping. I am also a numbers person and see my strengths in this area.
What is the city’s current financial situation like?
Shit would be boasted. We have a huge investment backlog in schools and kindergartens, which ranges from 50 million euros upwards. I don’t even need to mention the street renovation, nor the wastewater management. It is the same with the energetic renovation of the buildings. And in the town hall we have enormous space problems. At the moment we are struggling to be able to present a balanced budget for 2020 – but that will be difficult. With double-entry bookkeeping, we have to generate depreciation for the first time. Actually, you should have switched to this system a year or two ago – that would have made more sense.
We will put all income and expenses to the test and discuss them in the local council. I cannot yet say whether this is also about fees.
In 2012, we entered into a partnership with Emodrom GmbH, with whom we have a good, reliable partner. The fact that we have financial problems with investments in the ring is nothing new. Since 2003 there has been discussion about how the race track should continue. We are now at a point where we have to make a decision. I would like that to happen over the next year. Discussions are currently ongoing as to what a cooperation could look like.
Well, the municipal council, the shareholders’ meeting, Hockenheim-Ring GmbH and Emodrom GmbH. We’ll see if we can make the ring financially secure for the future together. On the one hand, jobs and the attractiveness of the ring and the city must be preserved. On the other hand, it is important that we do not sell any land. But we have to think about how we can manage certain investments, and for that we need partners.
Marcus Zeitler would like to see a decision about the future of the Hockenheimring in the coming year. Discussions are currently underway about a cooperation with Emodrom GmbH. Photo: Lenhardt
Do you rule out that the majority of the Hockenheimring will be taken over by a private investor?
I am not excluding anything. We talk through all the options. We shall see what comes of this. The only important thing is: we will definitely not sell any land.
But is not the issue that the Emodrom will acquire a large part of the shares in the ring?
The question is whether we should look for a partner who has financial means. In doing so, we will always focus on the well-being of the entire city. Because the ring is not a municipal duty. That we are emotionally attached to him and see him as a figurehead and advertising medium for our city is not up for discussion. The municipal council and the shareholders’ meeting have to decide what a cooperation with Emodrom GmbH could look like.
Is there anything new in Formula 1?
Except that we won’t have a Formula 1 race at the Hockenheimring next year. We don’t know whether it will return in 2022 or in 2021.
Would you like Formula 1 to come back?
So far, everyone in the world has earned a share in Formula 1 – just not the city of Hockenheim. I will be very happy to go into negotiations if we don’t have to add anything.
The ring made Hockenheim famous and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Nevertheless, the city center is bleeding out. Why is that?
It has absolutely nothing to do with the Hockenheimring. In the 1980s, the mistake was made of outsourcing everything to the green field. And of course people prefer to shop where they can drive up and have free parking spaces. But if we as citizens don’t shop in the city center, we can’t expect outside visitors to keep the shops there going.
First: the building does not belong to the city. Second, all of the requests we launched have been denied. The reasons are varied: small sales area, no parking spaces, too much competition on the green field. Even the CAP markets refused. I think we can say goodbye to the fact that there will be a large food market there. We’re not going to miss an opportunity to try – but it’s rock hard.