Some insiders fear the 2021 COTA Grand Prix race will be the last.
The multi-day festival October 22-24 will feature a 56-lap race on the 3.3-mile track, food and musical performances by two artists including Billy Joel at COTA’s 1,500-acre facility in the southeast of Austin. But after this year, the first F1 specific American circuit could lose its event title.
The establishment’s inability to secure a contract so far comes down to the Texas Legislature, a new threat to Miami and, most importantly, money.
The first F1 race will take place in Miami next year. (Hard Rock Stadium)
Each year, Formula One receives approximately $ 25 million from the Texas Major Events Reimbursement Program, a taxpayer-funded initiative that helps host major sporting events like the 2017 Houston Super Bowl in the state. A 2019 report from this year’s race reimbursement program said “the data is inconclusive” as to whether the event is having a positive or negative economic impact on the state with the resources provided. In 2018, the Austin-American Statesman reported that COTA grossed a total of $ 75.7 million between 2015 and 2017 for hosting the United States Grand Prix.
Legal issues also prevented Epstein and Co. from securing another 10-year contract earlier: In 2018, the company lost its annual bid of $ 25 million after failing to submit a human trafficking prevention plan. human beings as part of its annual application.
That same year, F1 chief executive officer Sean Bratches told The Associated Press that the organization hopes to stay with COTA “for many years to come.”
However, in May, the racing league announced it had been awarded a 10-year contract to host the Miami Grand Prix as US interest in the sport skyrocketed after the three-season documentary “Drive to Survive.” “, which tells behind the scenes looks at the drivers and the races of the world championship of Formula 1.
Epstein is optimistic about the new location in the United States and told Autoweek in May that “more races in our time zones are good for the sport.”
âI think we’re getting double the impact that way,â Epstein said. âMiami should sell a lot in year one and maybe year two, and then after that I think we would spit out from the public if we were around the same time on the schedule. So the gap is fantastic.â
Bobby Epstein recognizes one millionth COTA customer in 2013 (COTA / Facebook)
However, the new F1 venture could have an impact on COTA’s contract: In an opinion piece for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, writer Mac Engel said Texas likely wouldn’t shell out taxpayer dollars if the facility was no longer the only F1 track in the United States.
According to Engel, the major events reimbursement program agrees to provide funding only “if Austin hosts the only F1 race in the country.”
Epstein did not respond to such claims; in contrast, it feels like there is room for a third race in the United States as ticket sales rebound after COVID.
âIn the first week, we’ve sold pretty much all of the tickets we’ve put on sale and we plan to break the 2019 attendance record,â Epstein told Autoweek. âTexas was the first place to lift COVID-19 restrictions (in the US) and host sporting events, and we’re full. We’re at 100% capacity.
Despite efforts to diversify COTA’s revenue, Epstein’s USL football team Austin Bold has had its own share of problems, and the facility plans to become a multi-faceted entertainment arena with venues. concert, water park, condominiums and an 11-story hotel. – a loss of its main event could be devastating for the $ 300 million complex.
F1 has rarely lasted more than a decade at venues in the United States over the past century; let’s hope Austin breaks this curse.
COTA’s media relations team did not immediately return to Australia for comment.
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