AUSTIN, Texas — The home of Formula One in the U.S. was denied the chance to host a race at Circuit of The Americas this year, but COTA has received its big payment from Texas to cover expenses for the 2019 U.S. Grand Prix.
Texas made its annual payment to the beleaguered Circuit of the Americas in Austin, sending nearly $27 million on July 2, according to state records. That was about three weeks before F1 formally canceled the 2020 U.S. Grand Prix because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That race was supposed to be held in late October.
The money will pay the costs of staging the 2019 race, track Chairman Bobby Epstein said Tuesday. That includes a massive rights fee estimated at about $30 million paid to F1 just to host the race.
“This is not a windfall,” Epstein said. “It’s just catching up for money already put out.”
The track has collected nearly $200 million in public revenue from the state since 2012 under Texas’ Major Events Reimbursement Program. It allows organizers of big events to cover their costs by giving them tax money that was collected around the event.
While critics have called it a corporate giveaway of taxpayer money, it has been used by big events such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four. The U.S. Grand Prix has been the largest recipient of state cash by far.
The racetrack missed out on a $25 million payment for the 2018 race because of a paperwork error. The track has also been hit hard financially by the pandemic, losing not just the F1 race but also this year’s canceled MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, and cancellations of numerous concerts, including the Rolling Stones.
“We have not a revenue-producing ticketed event since last fall’s Formula One,” Epstein said. “Hopefully we’ll be back in the spring with MotoGP.”