But for dedicated fans, the four months of uncertainty following the expiration of COTA’s 10-year deal was more than just a hit on the global racing radar.
The track, which hosts the United States Grand Prix, NASCAR races and more, announced it had gotten at least five more years with F1 in February.
Here are the exclusive details on how COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein himself signed the deal.
Why wait ?
October in our minds. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/PXFwWChKgw
— Circuit of the Americas (@COTA) April 21, 2022
Each year, Formula 1 receives around $25 million from Texas’ Major Event Reimbursement Program, a taxpayer-funded initiative that helps bring major sporting events like the 2017 Houston Super Bowl to the state.
According to Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Mac Engel, however, the Major Event Reimbursement Program agrees to provide funding only “if Austin hosts the only F1 race in the country.”
And with a new race in Miami debuting this year, past legal issues and the race’s ambiguous past financial impact, some COTA insiders feared the global sport would be “F1 and Done” with the Austin track. .
Epstein told Austinia that state law was not involved in the latest deal.
“There is no allocation from the annual state budget,” Epstein said. “There is legislation in place that allows taxpayers’ money collected from participants in out-of-state events to be used to reimburse certain event-related expenses. This legislation is not unique to F1 and is used to attract over 100 events to our reporting each year.”
Epstein said the delay was due to COVID delays rather than internal strife.
“The timing was really about ‘paper’ the deal,” Epstein said. “F1’s management and legal teams were overwhelmed by COVID-related schedule changes earlier in the year.”
Why is F1 tied to Austin?
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 18, 2022
Whether or not there were any behind-the-scenes negotiations, Epstein said it was easy to see why F1 decided to sign the deal.
On several occasions, Epstein claimed that the 2021 United States Grand Prix in October was the “biggest sporting event in the world”, and with an estimated 400,000 people in attendance over the weekend, it was the most big three-day race weekend in F1. the story.
“The festive weekend has become a favorite destination event for fans and competitors alike,” Epstein told Austinia. “As the sport grows and tries new formats, they don’t want to lose what is already working, and after last year there was no way F1 could stop (nor did they want to stop) momentum.”
Epstein said the league would also be reluctant to leave a track custom-built for them, with the necessary turns and elevation changes to showcase the prowess of F1 drivers and their signature open-wheel vehicles.
And the event is a highlight for more than his track, Epstein said.
“Austin is a terrific host city and an absolute highlight of the Sports World Tour,” Epstein said. “With campsites, entertainment and themed villages, COTA’s grand prix takes on an unmistakable atmosphere. The COTA experience is much more like that of a historic, traditional Formula 1 circuit.”
With past attractions, celebrity appearances and a carnival atmosphere – with the promise of luxury “car condos” and a roller coaster-studded amusement park in the coming years – it looks like that atmosphere will be hard to beat. for the coming years .
The US market: too crowded or a chance to grow?
The rumors are true… #GPLasVegas is officially in the cards! A big thank you to @F1@LVCVA@LiveNation@GovSisolak@WynnLasVegas@MGMResortsIntl@CaesarsPalace and all our partners. #LasVegas…it’s the neon lights off, and let’s go! #Vroompic.twitter.com/sHS4zLu3pF
— gregmaffei (@gregmaffei_) April 16, 2022
There’s a new track in town – for the first time in over 30 years, a casino-side race in Las Vegas will join Miami and Austin as the third US track in 2023.
But despite enjoying the sole American presence in F1 for several years, Epstein does not see the two new events as a competition.
“With a night race on the glamorous Vegas Strip or a cosmopolitan spring race around Hard Rock Stadium, Formula 1 creates a diverse range of offerings,” Epstein said. “Each event is complementary to the other and offers very different experiences.”
While Austin offers a festival experience worthy of Austin, but more accessible, Miami and Las Vegas will showcase the luxury side of the sport. And thanks to the success of the Netflix F1 documentary series ‘Drive to Survive’, the once-foreign sport is growing exponentially – and for F1’s top brass, the previously untapped market is hard to ignore.
For Austin, that means thousands more are expected to continue to make the United States Grand Prix weekend one of the biggest travel weekends of the year for Austin International Airport- Bergstrom and local businesses.
“With Formula 1 audiences skyrocketing in the United States, three events a year will certainly not meet the demand,” Epstein said. “And the event in Austin will continue to bring hundreds of millions of tourist dollars to our hotels, restaurants and stores.”
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