The U.S. Grand Prix is coming back to Austin, Circuit of the Americas officials announced Wednesday. Before the announcement, it was unknown whether the multi-million dollar racing facility would again host the country's only Formula One race.
Profits from last year's race were down, and then Circuit of the Americas officials got bad news from the state: The event would only get a little more than $19 million from the Texas special events fund, roughly $6 million short of what it received the prior three years. Governor Greg Abbott’s staff reinterpreted the statute, which changed how much COTA got from the fund.
“We’ve been working pretty closely with the state. I think we understand their calculations better, and I think we have to do a better job of conveying the economic impact to them,” said COTA CEO Bobby Epstein.
So to make ends meet for this year's race, organizers will need to generate more hotel room stays, car rentals and the like.
Their strategy? Taylor Swift.
Swift will be the biggest-grossing touring act to perform race weekend. Officials hope she'll draw her fan base—possibly not the biggest F1 fans.
“I encourage someone, especially in the Austin audience, to go and check the highest attended concert in Austin history, whether you go back to ZZ Top in the '70s or '80s, or the Eagles at Memorial Stadium in the '90s, or the Stones in Zilker Park, because we’re going to crush it,” Epstein said.
COTA is also working to mitigate some of the problems created last year by heavy rains, by offering a 105-percent money-back rain guarantee for reserve-seat tickets, if it rains two or more inches on race weekend. This year's ticket prices will be, on average, 10 percent lower, and parking, food and beverages will also cost less. And there will be improvements to parking lots and bathroom areas to minimize mud.
The race is the third weekend in October, and tickets go on sale next month.