Austin circuit suspends construction, state pulls funding support UPDATE The State of Texas has withdrawn its commitment to help pay for Austin’s Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix. Further, even if the State wanted to help, there is not current application for funding on file. The application submitted by Circuit of the Americas back in July for $25 million of the state's Major Events Trust Fund (METF) was withdrawn in September.
In a statement issued at noon Tuesday, State Comptroller Susan Combs cites the high profile and very public disagreement that has emerged between Tavo Hellmund's Full Throttle Productions and the investor group funding the Circuit of the Americas track.
According to the State Comptroller’s statement: “The recent announcement of an annual Formula 1 race in New Jersey is a concern, as additional races have the potential to reduce the number of attendees to a Texas race, thereby decreasing the economic impact. Additionally, the reports of a slowdown in construction at the Circuit of the Americas, and recently publicized disagreements between the race rights-holder and the circuit developers have prompted speculation about whether the Austin race will even occur.”
No money will be committed before the race happens. This is a complete change from what had been discussed by the COTA and the State Comptroller’s office just 5 months ago.
This is the first public acknowledgement that Austin’s U.S. Grand Prix is in great jeopardy. And it’s led Combs to change the State’s stance on a commitment to helping the track financially, even if a new application is submitted.
Again according to the statement: “Let me state clearly: We have not paid out any money for the Formula 1 event. The only dollars that can be spent on the United States Grand Prix are tax revenues attributable to the successful running of a race. The state of Texas will not be paying any funds in advance of the event. Further, as is the case with all METF events, each application will be reviewed and analyzed for its likely economic impact and only after the race occurs would any funds be disbursed.”
That means no money will be committed before the race happens. This is a complete change from what had been discussed by the COTA and the State Comptroller’s office just five months ago.
11/15/11 Organizers of Circuit of The Americas, a premier motor sports racing and entertainment venue being developed in Austin, Texas, are suspending further construction of the project until a contract assuring the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix will be held at Circuit of The Americas in 2012 is complete. The race contract between Formula One and Circuit of The Americas has not been conveyed to Circuit of The Americas per a previously agreed upon timetable.
While construction at Circuit of The Americas has progressed as scheduled with over 300 workers at the construction site daily, all work will suspend immediately. The delivery of the Formula One Grand Prix race contract will allow construction operations to resume. zzzz
“We have spent tremendous resources preparing for the Formula One and MotoGP Championship races, but the failure to deliver race contracts gives us great concern,” said Bobby Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas. “We believe the United States is vital for the future of Formula One and its teams and sponsors. Given the purpose-built Tilke design, creating a unique fan experience and iconic challenge for drivers, we hope that Texas will not be left behind. More than 100,000 fans have expressed an interest in purchasing tickets for Formula One alone.”
“It is in the best interest of all parties to reach a timely resolution,” said Red McCombs, chairman of McCombs Enterprises and founding partner of Circuit of The Americas. “Local businesses, fans and the State of Texas are counting on us.”
[Editor's Note: Now that Bernie Ecclestone has his coveted race in NJ overlooking Manhattan, you can probably kiss the Austin race goodbye. Bernie has another problem, too many races. With Manhattan slated to be ready by 2013 and Sochi, Russia in 2012, and a rumored race in South Africa and Mexico, there may be no room on the schedule for to USA races.]