Clear skies and Taylor Swift could save F1 in Austin

Changes to keep F1 in Austin

AUSTIN - Weather may be the key ingredient to increasing slumping attendance at Circuit of the Americas’ Formula 1 this year.

In 2015, attendance was at a record low for the international event and some may blame the poor weather.

"Because of the unusual anomaly of having such a monsoon weather that we did last year those benchmarks weren't hit,” said Michele Skelding, Senior Vice President of Global Technology and Innovation for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Those benchmarks are part of the agreement between the Formula 1 organizers and the City of Austin. Last year, only 224,000 people attended the three-day event, compared to more than 265,000 people in 2012.

In addition to better weather this year, organizers are also expecting an increase in ticket sales thanks to headliners Taylor Swift and Usher.

Tickets are cheaper, from $169 in 2015 to $150 in 2016. Skelding points out that COTA has added more fan-friendly services such as "more shuttle options and more ways to make sure traffic is flowing well."

The future of the event in Austin was in question earlier this year when the U.S. Grand Prix had been scheduled for October 23 on Formula 1's calendar with an asterisk "subject to confirmation" of an agreement between F1 and race promoters.

In addition, the legislature made cuts to how much the state backs the event, from $25 million a year to $19 million.

According to city data, the Circuit of the Americas track cost an estimated $450 million to build.

But this year alone, Skelding expects it’ll bring in more than half a billion dollars to the city.

"This particular weekend is about $597 million in economic impact.”

Because of that, city officials are working to keep Formula 1 in Austin for years to come.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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