Despite the uncertainty from local and state government, officials from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas are sticking to their beliefs that this November’s Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix will be a major economic boon for the area.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott did not resolve any questions about whether the track and the event would be eligible for state funding reserved for sporting events such as Super Bowls and NCAA Basketball tournaments.
The AG issued an opinion on the matter Friday, first requested six months ago by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, saying that the question of whether the proper applications had been filed for the circuit to receive state money could not be resolved by the opinion process.
The money would come from the Major Events Trust Fund, which is a state development fund administered by Comptroller Susan Combs' office. Combs’ office told the Austin Statesman that they agreed with the initial ruling by Abbott.
"We are pleased with today's attorney general opinion," R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for Combs' office, said in an email. "All the rules laid out in statute are properly followed when analyzing applications made for Major Events Trust Funds."
Circuit of the Americas President Steve Sexton put out a statement today saying that the promoters intend to proceed with the event as scheduled and intend to work with all governmental entities to ensure economic success for everyone involved.
“We have worked with the local organizing committee in following the process to secure and host this international event,” Sexton said. “This event will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Texas economy while creating thousands of new full- and part-time jobs and will have a positive impact on our community. We look forward to the first FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ in Austin this November and to working with state, county and city officials to create another key economic driver for Central Texas.”
Patterson, who is against the event receiving any state funding, told the Statesman that he expects legal action to take place to keep Combs’ office from dispensing the funds.
"I think the Legislature needs to look at the administration of the Major Events Trust Fund, particularly in the case of Formula One," Patterson said. "You can make a case that (the statute) needs fixing, but it's clear you need an application."