Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein admits the Austin Formula 1 race’s future “is not looking good” after a state funding cut for the United States Grand Prix venue.
Since its GP debut in 2012, the Austin track has received $25 million per year from the Texas state government based on the economic value of F1 to the region. But following the arrival of a new governor earlier this year, the formula used to calculate the economic impact has changed and an audit of how the fund distributed was carried out.
As a result, the state feels F1 is worth 20 percent less to Texas than previously believed and has therefore cut the funding to $19.5 million. This has hit COTA hard, especially considering falling attendances since 2012, an annual rise in the race-hosting fee and losses at this year’s event because of bad weather.
“I’m concerned about the future,” Epstein told Autosport. “We did not know they would change how they calculated the funding. We just received a letter that they were going to do that.
“To cover the loss of funding, we have to sell another 30,000 tickets. But if we could have sold another 30,000 this year we would have. We didn’t stop selling. So I don’t think we’re going to make our way out of it by selling more tickets. It’s not looking good.”
When asked what plans were currently in place to try and resolve the situation, Epstein said: “I’m not sure we have the answer right now. I have talked to Bernie [Ecclestone]. He has always been a very good business partner for us.
“I think he appreciates what we have created here, in trying to give F1 a suitable home in the U.S., and the fans are responding well and I want to see it continue.”