While construction is ongoing at the Austin Grand Prix's Circuit of the Americas for next June's inaugural USGP at the track (LEFT, and see video, BELOW), COTA officials still have a few more financial hurdles to face. First up, as the Austin Statesman reports, they need to get the Austin city council to officially take on the role of "endorsing municipality" in order for race organizers to access the $25 million per year promised by the Texas state government for the event from its Major Events Trust Fund.
The endorsement involves the City of Austin contributing $4 million – its share of the anticipated tax revenue – to the state's trust fund, but city officials stressed that, before agreeing to anything, they want assurances that no local taxpayer money would be used to support the race.
The Statesman reports that Circuit of the Americas project attorney Richard Suttle Jr. said at the council meeting the city would incur no costs using the Major Events Trust Fund because race organizers would instead cover the first-year portion of the trust fund, meaning the city would not pay anything up front. The costs associated with subsequent years' races (the event has a 10-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management group) would be covered by taxes collected on the previous year's race.
"It's free money, with no risk," the Statesman quotes Suttle as saying.
The city council could decide on the issue as early as June 23, and Suttle – who admitted that organizers took a gamble that the council would approve the plan when they broke ground ahead of its decision – indicated that the future of the event could ride on the outcome.
"There is a distinct possibility that if this process doesn't work, that the project and the 1,000 people who are working right now, their jobs could be in jeopardy and the event could be in jeopardy," he told local TV channel KVUE.