Austin reviews 2012 U.S. Grand Prix, prepares for this year's race event
The 2013 U.S. Grand Prix takes place Nov. 17, and Austin’s public and private sectors are looking at how to apply what they learned to this year’s race.
By all accounts, the 2012 U.S. Grand Prix—Formula One’s first race in the U.S. in five years and the first major event at the new Circuit of The Americas facility—was a logistical success, according to a post-event report produced by the city in May.
The city and partner agencies plan to reuse the plan’s most successful elements, such as the extensive traffic planning and monitoring and the incident command response model, and tweak minor issues.
“This event was unlike anything we have done in the region before,” said Rodney Gonzales, city of Austin deputy director of economic growth and redevelopment. “It’s been compared to Super Bowls, but it’s on an annual basis. It took a regional effort to get it done.”
COTA President Steve Sexton said the facility plans to add more entertainment options and incorporate more aspects of Austin into the circuit.
He added that some fans were not used to the amount of walking that takes place around an F1 track and additional transportation options were being considered.
Racing and football
The 2013 race weekend of Nov. 15–17 will include an additional challenge: The University of Texas will play a home football game against Oklahoma State University on Nov. 16.
Widely feared downtown traffic jams never materialized last year, and Gonzales wanted to dispel that notion for this year.
“The story took on a life of its own,” he said. “We heard that local residents had left town for the weekend, and customers of downtown businesses were scared off. We are very confident in the traffic situation and would not like to see a repeat of [last year’s situation.]”
UT Police Department Lt. Dennis Chartier said the race will have little effect on game day traffic.
COTA, its shuttle locations and Austin Fan Fest are far away from the Darrell K. Royal Stadium, and UT plans to use the same entrance and exit traffic patterns it used last year, he said.
There is typically a seven-hour window of traffic from when tailgaters arrive until the end of the game, and he expects 100,000 people to attend the game.
In the months before the 2012 race, COTA officials estimated that the facility would have a $300 million annual impact on local and regional economies for the next decade.
While the post-event report includes some sales tax and revenue numbers, it states that the report should not be considered a comprehensive economic study.
The city will not be conducting a study for the F1 event, city spokeswoman Melissa Alvarado said.
“Typically, an economic analysis is conducted if the city is participating financially, such as providing an incentive or [an economic development] agreement, for example,” she said. “F1, in this case, is treated no differently than any of the other events that occur in Austin, such as Fun Fun Fun Fest, [Austin City Limits Festival] [or the Republic of Texas biker] rally, which we also do not conduct economic impact analyses on nor do we participate financially.”
A spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitor Association told Community Impact Newspaper in May 2012 that F1’s former home city did not commission a post-event impact study, but that F1 had met the city’s financial expectations.