Despite years of underwhelming attendance, F1 at COTA aims to continue growth


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Visitors from all over the world are in Austin to watch the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

That means the pressure is on to make sure its a success.

Last year, more than 111,000 people were at the Circuit of the Americas race track on race day. This year, COTA’s owner said it could be the biggest year ever.

MORE: Can’t make it to COTA? Check out this free F1 party

But just weeks ago, Formula 1 announced another U.S. race in Miami. Experts expressed concern the entrance of another F1 race in the states could take fans away from our Central Texas market.

Despite the enthusiasm from die-hards, the race has struggled over the past few years.

According to numbers submitted to the major events reimbursement program which goes to Governor Abbott’s office, there was a consistent decline in attendance from 2015 to 2017.

Each year, the anticipated attendance predicted by the event organizers was higher than the number of people who actually showed up, documents show.

Economic experts say this is something COTA officials recognize and are actively trying to fix.

“It has been something that we are looking at and I know the folks at COTA are working on finding out where they can make some adjustments,” said Matt Patton, the senior project manager for Angelou Economics.

2018 saw significant improvement, with an attendance of more than 111,000. That’s more than 17,000 than in 2017.

Track chairman Bobby Epstein is confident 2019 will be record-breaking.

COTA has signed a 10-year deal with F1 that runs through 2021. Re-negotiations are said to be underway.

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