Plans for Texas Grand Prix revealed
Further financial details about how the proposed new United States Grand Prix will be funded have been revealed. The Stateman newspaper in Austin, Texas, where a deal has been struck to host a Formula One event from 2012, won a court ruling to have documents detailing the organisers’ strategy released, against the will of Tavo Hellmund, the frontman of the Texan group that secured a deal with Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management (FOM) in May. Hellmund’s company Full Throttle Promotions will reportedly receive US$25 million in state support via the Texas Major Events Trust Fund.
Prior to the race announcement, Formula One, along with the Breeders’ Cup horse racing meeting, was added to a list of eligible events in Texas’ tax-incentives programme, to assist the funding of profitable events in the state. The predicted economic impact of a race in Texas is, according to the documents, likely to be in the region of some US$300 million per year over the initial ten-year contract duration.
Some 1,500 jobs will be created, including around 40 permanent positions at the purpose-built facility. Excluding the Formula One race Hellmund has predicted that the new circuit will play host to 400,000 spectators for other events throughout the year. It has been suggested that Nascar, the Grand Am series and drag racing will all stage events at the venue on completion. It is planned for the track to be in use in some form for 250 days a year, following the business model set by the nearby Texas Motor Speedway.
The US$180 million facility will be built close to Austin’s international airport. The city’s location and existing transport infrastructure were key reasons why Ecclestone agreed to stage a race there. The 15th largest city in the country, Austin is relatively close to major population centres such as Dallas and Houston as well as lying close to the Mexican border. An FOM statement announcing the deal noted that: ‘Hotels/downturn/Formula One circuit [are] located within close proximity of each other, which is nearly impossible for any other large city in the USA.’
Keen to avoid the communications problems that helped scupper Donington Park’s ill-judged bid to stage the British Grand Prix, Hellmund has, in recent days, stepped up his public relations campaign. Last week he revealed that one of the major backers of the project is Red McCombs, a prominent Texan entrepreneur previously best-known in the sports industry for once owning the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets NBA teams and the Minnesota Vikings NFL franchise. That announcement has gone some way to giving the project credibility after a sceptical initial response to the plans.