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Austin Endorses F1 Track

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 29 2011

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

After three weeks of deliberation, the Austin City Council voted to officially endorse the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix event to be held in neighboring Travis County in June of 2012. The 5 to 2 vote in favor of the event came after lobbying by representatives of the Circuit of The Americas to craft an environmental agreement.

“We appreciate the Council’s approval of the endorsement,” said Steve Sexton, president of COA. “Austin is a unique community and the environmental provisions we worked together to craft with the council demonstrate our commitment to produce an event aligned with the values and vision of the city.”

The endorsement makes the project eligible for $25 million a year in state subsidies to pay the rights fees to Formula One Management to schedule an F1 event in Texas. To receive the state money from the Special Events Trust Fund, a political entity must organize a committee to oversee the expenditure of funds. The Austin council’s endorsement meant the organization will be formed, allowing the state comptroller to begin disbursing funds after final approval.

According to the terms of the environmental deal, The Circuit of Americas will pay up to $15,000 for carbon offsets, such as planting trees, and invest $5 million for on-site research into green technology, among other projects.

Last week, the city and the circuit’s representatives reached an agreement in which race promoters — not the city, as originally proposed — will place an estimated $4 million into a state trust fund account every year for the 10-year duration of the contract to host the race or a total of $40 million. The final vote was postponed last week in order to seat a new council member following a special election, one of two council memebers who voted against the race.

It remains unclear whether the $4 million provided to the city will be paid from the trust fund annually after FOM has been paid its rights fee of $25 million. Estimates of the total taxes to be generated from the event each year were originally listed as $29 million, the basis for the state’s trust fund investment. The same funding mechanism has been used to help bring the Super Bowl and the NCAA Mena’s Final Four tournament to Texas among other events.

Currently in the final stages of excavation in preparation for construction, the Circuit of The Americas will adopt a 54-point plan currently being devised to help make the track green.

“I’m proud of the partnership between the City and Circuit of The Americas to develop and build what will be among the greenest, most high-tech sports and entertainment facilities anywhere,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 29 2011
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