Formula 1 revs into Austin at full capacity this weekend, but future is still uncertain with contract pending

F1 Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin prepares for a sold-out Formula 1 race at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend, venue officials are also turning their sights toward the future of F1 events in the city.

COTA representatives confirmed this weekend’s Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix has sold out at 100% capacity. The venue is able to host 100,000 attendees, representatives said.

“If I can share the preparations here in Austin this weekend, it’s been incredible,” F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a virtual presser Thursday. “We are expecting an all sold-out crowd, that shows really the status of Formula 1 today and also here in the U.S.”

This year’s sold-out race follows the 2020 cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic, initially scheduled for Oct. 25 last year.

Currently, F1’s 2022 schedule details a race in Austin on Oct. 23, 2022. That date, however, comes with an asterisk next to its name, denoting the event is “subject to contract” with COTA.

“I am watching that really closely because it would be a shame if they took it off the calendar,” said John Yaskowitz who was in town from Phoenix.

COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein says he’s optimistic the deal between COTA and F1 will be renewed.

“We are still talking about it, but I am pretty optimistic,” said Epstein. “I don’t think we are talking about are we going to be back next year. We are talking about what does a longer-term agreement look like.”

What could put the brakes on F1 in Austin?

“There is only one hurdle,” said Epstein. “What is the price going to be?”

While that number was not disclosed Epstein says they are working out the details.

“They (F1) have a product that a lot of people want,” said Epstein. “They know they bring a lot of economic impact wherever they go and they can demand a pretty big price for that.”

One of the reasons the event is coming to Texas is how much money they pull in. In years past F1 has received between $22 million to $29 million.

Full Event Name                                                     Applicant           Total Paid

2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $29,329,984.00

2013 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $29,028,664.00

2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $28,562,562.00

2015 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $22,727,204.00

2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $26,027,001.00

2017 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $27,162,876.00

2019 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix           CELOC           $26,815,275.00

The event also brings in international travelers and a boost to the local economy.

“From what I have seen it is about $350 million,” said Tom Noonan, President of Visit Austin. “So, that is Super Bowl-esque, that is the kind of size of a sporting event coming to Austin, and it comes every year.”

Noonan says this year’s event has helped Austin’s economy especially since travel has been down during the pandemic.

“If you go look for a rate in the city right now you are going to see $500 or $600 rates going for hotels and hotel tax which is good for the city,” said Noonan.

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