ESPN, the global sports news giant, says Thailand’s F1 race, should be held in Isaan Region

ESPN, the global leader on sports news, on its F1 page, said if Thailand wants F1, why not hold it in the Isaan Region. ESPN reports; Thailand is southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, although – like much of the world – growth has been slowing in recent years, thanks in part to the Great Financial Crisis™. But northeastern Thailand is a region still experiencing a boom, particularly the province of Isaan. A news outfit recently ran a fascinating piece about the whys and wherefores of Isaan’s economic growth, which stems in part from the region’s support of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – whose influence can still be felt in Thai politics – and in part from their previous abject poverty. The current Thai government has mandated minimum wage increases that have been most sharply felt in Isaan. In January 2013, the government introduced a nationwide minimum wage equivalent to $10 a day, but because wages in Isaan had previously been so low, the increase was equivalent to a 35%, one of the sharpest jumps in the country. So what relevance does any of this have to Formula One? Isaan is “the next entry point for investors and consumers – if they link it up to China, it becomes the entry point to Thailand, not Bangkok,” Barclays Capital economist Rahul Bajoria said. And if Formula One can’t race in Bangkok, why not explore this new frontier? With endless on-going construction work and infrastructure improvements, the addition of the F1 circus could not be said to have a detrimental effect on the locality, the (entirely sensible and legitimate) reason the proposed Bangkok palace route was dropped. If the area is booming, and infrastructure booming with it, then F1 could be accommodated into new developments in the early stages, creating the sort of city circuit that Mokpo was supposed to be. Economic growth in Isaan is nearly double that of the rest of Thailand. Since 2007, monthly household income has increased at a greater rate than anywhere else in the country. Private and public investment are both thriving. Some of Thailand’s biggest companies are moving northeast, both to save money and to protect their businesses from losses caused by regular flooding in the southern regions. But the business migration means that logistics and facilities in Isaan are improving, and could be made F1-ready. Transport links are improving every day. If F1 really wants Thailand, why not take a punt on Isaan? The Mokpo model has to make sense somewhere…

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