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It's the X Games' Last Ride at Circuit of the Americas

Jimmy Maas
Julz Lynn practices Wednesday for the X Games' Skateboard Park event this weekend.

ESPN is back in town with its annual Summer X Games, but it will be the last time in Austin. ESPN is taking its half-pipe and going home a year early.

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk kicked off the ESPN broadcast two years ago in front of an impressive backdrop downtown. It was perfect for TV, and a reminder that the games are a made-for-TV event that ESPN uses to fill a void in the sports calendar on its cable channels. As far as that goes, Austin made perfect sense: an outdoor venue for the games, plus the vibe of the place just seemed right. 

“It’s a happy town. So, hopefully you go out there and transfer that happiness onto the ramps,” said Bob Burnquist. The 39-year-old has skated at every X Games since their inception in 1995.

“It’s a nice town after, as well, just to go out and have dinner and cruise around…It’s a cool town to come visit.”  

The problem is that ESPN prefers the X Games to air after big events like the NBA playoffs but before sports fans get wrapped up in football. That places it on the calendar at a time of year when nobody wants to be outside at Circuit of the Americas – or anywhere in Austin.

That is the primary reason the X Games is leaving a year earlier than its original four-year agreement with Circuit of the Americas.


Credit Jimmy Maas / KUT
Skateboarder Brighton Zeuner practices Wednesday at Circuit of the Americas. At 11 years old, she is the youngest female competitor in X Games history.

Tim Reed oversees creative development and the day-to-day business of the X Games for ESPN.

“Optimally, we’re in the mid to late-July timeframe with this event. So, that’s what we’re trying to look at in terms of a future site and finding a place that will work in that time frame,” Reed said.

That being said, though, he said he will miss Austin.

“It’s a great city, it really is. It’s a really great place to hang out and work. A lot of great people. The people are awesome. I think if we were able to do it in the time we wanted to, it would be a different story.”

As for where ESPN goes next? According to Reed, they've got a bunch of proposals.

"So, we’re evaluating those right now and hopefully make a decision here in the next month to month and a half.”

Jimmy is the assistant program director, but still reports on business and sports every now and then. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @maasdinero.
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