Austin F1 organizers reapply for state funds

A group affiliated with Circuit of the Americas has reapplied to state Comptroller Susan Combs' office to tap an economic development fund for a Formula One race scheduled for November.

The application, filed by the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee on July 13, asks Combs to create a trust fund containing $30.6 million. It contains a revised economic impact study, letters from City of Austin officials and Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, and other documents.

"We will review and analyze the request as required by the statute to estimate the incremental tax increase the event would generate," comptroller's office spokesman R.J. DeSilva said Friday. "Any money deposited in the fund would be used after the race occurs to reimburse expenses related to the event."

The committee, which was approved by the city last year to act on its behalf, had originally applied to tap the Major Events Trust Fund in June of last year but withdrew the application a month later when the date of the Austin race was changed from this June to November.

Under state law, fund applications must be submitted no earlier than one year and no later than three months before an event, DeSilva said. The first Formula One race at the Circuit of the Americas, a racetrack under construction in southeastern Travis County, is scheduled for Nov. 16 through 18. The Major Events Trust Fund, which is administered by the comptroller's office, in the past has been used to draw the Super Bowl and NBA All-Star games to the state.

To qualify for the trust fund subsidy, organizers must prove that their event will generate at least the same amount of money in "extra" sales, alcohol, hotel and car rental taxes.

A revised economic impact study submitted with the application says that the race will generate a little more than $293 million in direct economic impact for the area, which is about $1 million more than was cited in a report with last year's application. The revised study says that direct impact would produce about $26.4 million in new tax revenue for the state, a number that was almost unchanged from the previous report.

It also claims 4,962 jobs will be created by out-of-state spending, a decrease of 17 jobs from the previous study.

Both studies were written by Don Hoyte, a former economist for the comptroller's office who now runs a company that produces economic impact studies and advises trust fund applicants on how to secure money through the state program.

The circuit would apply the bulk of the funds toward a sanctioning fee to host the race, originally believed to be about $25 million.

The Texas Legislature in 2009 appropriated $25 million from the state's general fund, which promoters had said would cover the sanctioning fee. Subsequent races would have received up to $25 million annually from the trust fund subsidy for 10 years.

But in November, Combs said no state money would be paid in advance of the first race amid uncertainty over the future of the track and race as well an announcement of plans to hold an F1 race in New Jersey in 2013.

"The only money that would be used is what's deposited in the (major events fund)," DeSilva said. The Statesman

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