The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas is a much bigger deal around the world than in Austin, but race weekend always delivers a high-horsepower boost to the local economy.
MotoGP claims to have a worldwide audience of 300 million households, although just a fraction of those reside in this country. This weekend, fans will be closely following these storylines at Circuit of the Americas: Marc Marquez vs. Valentino Rossi, the flight of the Maverick and the emergence of Cal Crutchlow.
More than 150 media credentials were issued, the vast majority going to international media, and the combined attendance for the three-day weekend figures to exceed 100,000, with about 50,000 fans coming out Sunday. COTA no longer releases crowd figures to the media, but in 2016 track officials announced a total attendance of 131,881 for the annual MotoGP event.
While the Texas Longhorns’ spring football game is expected to draw 20,000 to 25,000 Saturday night, MotoGP qualifying is likely to pull 35,000 to 40,000.
“We love all our racing, but MotoGP is easily our second most popular to Formula One,” Katja Heim, COTA’s chief operating officer, told the American-Statesman.
COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein added, “MotoGP is also our most fun sports event.”
Austin-based Angelou Economics estimated the direct impact of the 2017 race on the local economy to be $88.5 million and the total impact to be $169.5 million in documents filed to state and local governments for the Major Events Reimbursement Program.
Out-of-state fans outnumber ticket buyers from Texas. Angelou Economics estimated that in 2017, more than 28,000 fans traveled to the event from beyond the state’s borders. At least 5,000 of those fans were from different countries.
Epstein knows that having the only continental stop in the series is huge.
“When MotoGP consolidated to a single event in North America, giving up Indy and Laguna Seca, it drove all of the manufacturers and sponsors to one place,” he said.
“It strengthened the championship and tripled the focus on the host city. It’s been great for the fans because they get all the programming, entertainment and activation at one location, and it’s been terrific for the circuit. We’ve seen annual increases in attendance and revenue.”
Epstein said ticket sales were up “double digits” this year. However, MotoGP’s contract with COTA also is up after this year, the sixth time Austin has been host to the series.
Dorna, the Barcelona-based rights holder for MotoGP, keeps its cards close to the vest and will weigh riders’ criticism of the bumpy track, which surfaced again Friday even after repeated efforts in recent months to smooth out rough spots.
Dorna wants an American presence in MotoGP, and the Austin stop is generally popular with competitors and fans. Supporting documents submitted for the Major Events Reimbursement Program show that Dorna officials have stressed to COTA and city officials that there remains “substantial competition from a number of venues interested in hosting our series.”
“This event is a priority,” Epstein said. “I think the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas will be here for many years to come.”
Twelve of MotoGP’s 19 Grand Prix weekends are in Europe, with the rest spread around the world.
“Realistically, this is the only one that’s affordable without spending your inheritance,” said Jerry Babcock, a motorsports fan from Long Beach, Calif. “The track is cool, but it’s hard to get around. You kind of have to pick your spot and go with it.
“Can’t complain about spending a long weekend in Austin.”
RED BULL GRAND PRIX OF THE AMERICAS
What: World’s premier motorcycle series
Where: Circuit of the Americas
Tickets: Single-day tickets, $39-$109; weekend general admission, $99; weekend main grandstand seat, $149 and up; weekend flex pass, $199 and up
Note: Children 12 and younger will be admitted free with a ticketed adult.
It’s a festival: Throughout the weekend, musical acts will be playing at the grand plaza, the support paddock, two Ducati’s Island stages and the paddock lounge.
TV: beIN Sports will broadcast Sunday’s races.
9-11:40 a.m. — Third round of practices for MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.
12:35-1:15 p.m. — Moto3 qualifying.
12:45-1:15 p.m. — MotoAmerica rider autograph session.
1:30-2 p.m. — Fourth round of practices for MotoGP.
2:10-2:50 p.m. — MotoGP qualifying 1 and 2.
3:05-3:50 p.m. — Moto2 qualifying.
4:15 p.m. — MotoAmerica Superbike, race 1.
8-10 a.m. — Warmups in all classes.
10:15-10:35 a.m. — MotoGP riders parade.
11 a.m. — Moto3 race (18 laps).
12:20 p.m. — Moto2 race (19 laps).
2 p.m. — MotoGP race (21 laps).
3:45 p.m. — MotoAmerica Superbike race (15 laps).
Source : https://www.mystatesman.com/sports/motor-sports/motogp-arrives-cota-with-its-future-austin-yet-settled/k2dAv2qEX9nobLkxd8IZkO/