Unlikely though it may have seemed just a couple of years ago, Austin, Texas, has become the site of a battle between Formula One racing and economic development on the one hand, and government spending restrictions and fiscal responsibility on the other.

The showdown is over the United States Grand Prix, set to be held on the new Circuit of the Americas on the outskirts of Austin next year. Holding an F1 race almost invariably involves government support in the form of public funds, and a vocal lobby has vehemently rejected to the notion of government coffers being opened up to support the race. However after weeks of deliberation, the Austin City Council has reportedly voted by a majority of 5-2 to support the event.

The rationale, as is common with other grands prix, is that the public investment – some $25 million per year in this case – will encourage a big boost in tourism. Those coming to Austin for the race – be they spectators or F1 personnel – are expected to spend around $700 per day per person.

Another element offsetting the naysayers revolves around plans to make the track complex currently under construction one of the greenest circuits in the world, with public transportation, bike lanes and some 800 trees planted around the grounds of the circuit.

A potential change of date, however, is being considered for the race. The race is currently scheduled to take place on June 17, one week after the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. But with temperatures in Austin reaching over 100 degree Fahrenheit in June, organizers could lobby to have the race moved later in the year, possibly to be twinned with the Brazilian Grand Prix in November instead.


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  • 23 Comments
      Jeff C
      • 4 Years Ago
      Please change the date for the fall. Texas in the fall is very nice and the event will be a lot more popular in the cooler months. Do people really want to be sitting in the hot Texas sun all day?
      Making11s
      • 4 Years Ago
      If this happens, I'm going. Austin is great city, and Austin with F1 is too good to pass up.
      StreetsideStig
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm thrilled F1 is coming to the States, but I hate the idea of government funding.
        SAM
        • 4 Years Ago
        @StreetsideStig
        The goal of course is to bring in much more money. The F1 race in Indy brought in about 120k people or so. I would say that a person just attending to watch the race would spend 4 days at the city. Figure a low figure of $50 in food a day x 120k x 4 days = $24 million in just food sales. Throw in alcohol and hotel and the figure goes up much much higher. Of course, the F1 teams spend the better part of the week there and they spend a LOT of money. Along with Formula 1 comes a large international crowd, so a lot of international money being spent in the US. This isn't a NASCAR crowd either but the social elite as you would call them with more money than they know what to do with. Another fact is that many Europeans don't have a clue about Austin. I went to school at UT and have lived in Europe for a few months. All the people that asked me about where I went to school, they didn't know anything about Austin at all. Some of them think everyone in Texas wears a cowboy hat. So, this race should put Austin on the map for international tourists. It's not often you run into an foreigner in Austin, which is vastly different than LA, San Fran, or NYC where you run into international tourists all the time. So the race should have a lasting effect beyond just bringing people in for the F1 race.
          OhReallyDough
          • 4 Years Ago
          @SAM
          hmm.. you bring up some good points. Its funny because your right many foreigners dont know a thing about Austin at all until they get here. But even my cousins in Illinois think everyone in TX wears cowboy hats and ride horses. :-/ This may be a big opportunity for them to travel to see what they think "the wild west" is really about. I disagree with your statement about not running into foreigners in Austin though. I have lived here my whole life and see many foreigners on a regular basis around town. Especially during the festivals like SXSW and ACL. Not like you would in NY or LA but there are many to be found.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 4 Years Ago
        @StreetsideStig
        Why not? Its the only organization big enough to bring an event of this caliber to the city. Further, the increased revenue for businesses means increased tax dollars for the state. It could even end up being a net gain for taxpayers...
        Blakkar
        • 4 Years Ago
        @StreetsideStig
        In this case, it would be a matter of the Government investing money. Investment: the expenditure of funds with the expectation of a return in the form of profit and/or benefit of some kind as a result. Austin spends the money to get F1 to Texas, increasing tourism. SCCA Trans-Am, Grand-Am, Indy/CART, and ALMS would not be far off from this to take advantage of the world class track, even if F1 decides to cut and run like a startled dear. More racing, more fans and, more tourism money. There would be a corresponding increase in local business to accommodate this tourism and growing ancillary markets as well. Additionally, racing would expand to the TMS, which has an in-field road course. The effect becomes boarder. Government funding, is a critical part of America's success. Consider that America's computer industry would not be the greatest in the world, if the US Govt had not been those companies' FIRST BIGGEST CUSTOMER... and we would not have the internet without the US DOD. More government funding... investment... that has paid dividends. The "Govt funding" people get bent out of shape over, is the mindless, unethical, senseless, hand-outs and giveaways the Government has made into an industry. Giving money to rich people not to use their land for farming, which they weren't going to do anyway. Farm subsidies that favor large farms, effectively paying big farms to get bigger. Tax breaks for those who do NOT need them that middle case people couldn't even imagine being able to take advantage of. Economic, taxation, and employment policies that make it easier for the wealthy and large companies to make money by doing as little as possible or even do nothing at all. You can add things like road projects that are genuinely not needed, monuments to nothing., undeserved pay raises and so on, as well.
      ccweems
      • 4 Years Ago
      How about an Autoblog survey where we guess how many times F1 will race at Austin? Like Number of Times F1 races at Austin 0 Too many moving parts to succeed plus the EPA and the tree huggers haven't weighed in 1 Crowds will be far less than expected and they will spend far less than projected, F1 halted 2 Politicos promised the second time would be a bonanza, it wasn't, F1 halted 3 New Austin Mayor and city council members stop the insanity, FBI investigates prior administration 4+ (Drug assisted) Everything goes exactly as promised
      Jake
      • 4 Years Ago
      You might be better off not scheduling it during the heart of College football season as well as NFL season in this state. Nobody will even notice the thing if it comes near the UT vs. A&M game.
      sc0rch3d
      • 4 Years Ago
      100 degrees....? pffft.....normal to Texas natives, in houston it was 105 at my house yesterday (in the shade)
        Mike Pulsifer
        • 4 Years Ago
        @sc0rch3d
        ...yet a selling this point for this endeavor is tourism. No way I'm going there in that heat.
      JR
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, $700 a day. Guess I wont be going.
        BradBot
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JR
        I think that is a general estimate of what a person can expect to spend as a tourist; hotel, eating out, tickets, etc...
        JR
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JR
        I would be "tourist". In and around ,prices will be jacked . Not happening.
          Woogychuck
          • 4 Years Ago
          @JR
          Keep in mind, that is an average. So, your $99/night room is averaged in with the $500/night suites and your $50/day food budget is averaged with $200+/day budgets. It's also worth noting that the $700/day average is a probably bit inflated, but even $450/day would be a good income draw given that there will be around 100k people there.
      P
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anybody questioning Austin as a destination for this clearly hasn't been there -- It's an awesome city, filled with cool stuff to do and completely unlike the rest of Texas (which, IMO, is generally not awesome at all). The one caveat: Heat. Excited as I am for Austin, I'm genuinely considering skipping it given the weather at that time of year. It's way too hot. Miserable hot, even. That could make-or-break the success of this race.
      OhReallyDough
      • 4 Years Ago
      hmm.. still reassessing how i feel about this. As an Austin resident and car enthusiast i was SUPER excited to hear F1 was coming to town but after reading up on it and finding out we were shelling out a substantial amount of our money to help the organisers build it, i got a little aprehensive. We have already laid off alot of teachers in the state and had to make massive cut backs across the board for various public services. I dont see too many people spending $700/day here-even after hotel costs..this isnt New York or LA. The cost of living (or tourism) isnt very high. Not to mention i heard an interview on the radio w/ the editor of one of the popular car mags (cant remember which one) saying Ecclestone has a history of leaving the cities on the hook for $$ when the seats dont get filled becasue all he cares about is television rights to broadcast the games..so we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping it doesnt turn out to be a bad decision for us..
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      AnalogJesse
      • 4 Years Ago
      Austin is one of the best cities in the US.
      gtv4rudy
      • 4 Years Ago
      . what's Carl Edwards got to do with Austin and the F1 track? That is Carl Edwards with the checkered flag right?
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