X Games coming to Austin in 2014



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Posted on July 17, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 17 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The Summer X Games are coming to Austin in 2014.

Wednesday morning ESPN announced it had chosen Austin to host the games. The first event will take place May 15-18, 2014. Following an 11-year run in Los Angeles, the games will now be held in Austin through 2017 at the Circuit of the Americas.

"It's really good to change it up," said Morgan Wade.
Wade is a three-time X Games medalist who has been competing for over a decade. The Tyler, Texas native says moving the games to his home state just makes sense.
"Austin's a great place because it's already got a lot of the culture that really identifies with action sports," Wade said.

With 1,500 acres, ESPN says COTA is big enough to hold all of the events in one place.

“I was confident all along that Austin would be picked in the end primarily because of this excellent venue,” said  Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

See the official announcement below:

"First of all, Austin as a city has done a terrific job over the last several years embracing big events," Scott Guglielmino, ESPN's senior vice president for programming and Global X, said.

Guglielmino says ESPN wants to make music a key component in the event, so what better place to do that than in the Live Music Capitol of the World?

"Music, obviously, is a big piece of that, and they have a very active community and city. The other piece of it was when we got on the ground in Austin and met Bobby [Epstein, COTA's chairman and founding partner] and his group and saw the facility, it felt right very quickly. They shared a vision in terms of growing out this event."

Austin also has extreme fans. On June 5, thousands of Austinites filled Congress Avenue for an X Games rally at the Capitol to show ESPN executives their support.
"You know we don't have any major league sports, professional sports here in our city or in our general area, so this is what we do,” said Leffingwell.

Guglielmino says ESPN decided to extend the original deal from three years to four years. Specifics about the games are now in the works. Guglielmino says ESPN wants to reflect the Austin vibe and take advantage of the Austin360 Amphitheater at COTA to incorporate music into the X Games.

And then there's Austin's advantage, the venue -- COTA.

“I think when they went up on the tower and saw that this isn't just a race track, there's a lot to COTA, and there's a lot of room and a lot of canvass to create on," said COTA Founding Partner Bobby Epstein.
Epstein says it will take about four weeks and nearly $20 million to convert the track into the X Games venue.
“A lot of that in construction, a lot of that in labor just in even building the courses and putting this together,” Epstein explained.
The total economic impact of the games is estimated at $50 million a year.
"That ripples throughout our entire economy. People who have a restaurant or a souvenir shop or whatever it might be are all gonna see the increase in business activity," said Leffingwell.
There are some concerns about bringing the games to Austin. The first Austin X Games are scheduled for May 15-18, 2014 -- the same weekend as University of Texas’ graduation. That gives some people pause about the lack of hotel rooms and transportation.
"We're going to work out a plan that respects their [UT] event and make sure people can get to it on a reasonable basis,” said Leffingwell. “You know, UT has kind of a major traffic jam for every football game and I don't think this is going to present as much problem."
Leffingwell said the city plans to rely heavily on bus transportation as it did with the Formula 1 Race. He also noted that the COTA track and UT are not close to one another and that should alleviate some hotel congestion.

Austin beat out three other finalists to host the X Games including Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte.

See the full press release from ESPN here.