"This confirms what I've been saying all along, that the city would be contributing no upfront money, and that the city would not be at risk," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. That should clear the F1 project for council approval in a meeting later this week, he said.
It's not escaped notice that $40m upfront is a large chunk of change for a sports promotion company to come by - and that by coincidence, Red Bull just happen to have that sort of cash available should they pull out of NASCAR at the end of the current 2011 season as seems highly likely. And one obvious way for Full Throttle Productions to gain access to that sort of funding would be by doing a deal for the race title rights with a company such as Red Bull.
Full Throttle Productions' hand was forced when Council Member Bill Spelman threatened to postpone the meeting scheduled to approve the city's application for the $25m annual state funding. When asked if he thought that the urgent need for this cash was behind Full Throttle's decision to agree to pay up in full in advance, Mayor Leffingwell said: "I think that's a fair assumption."
Asked if he thought this would be enough to get the council vote in support of the US Grand Prix through this week's meeting, Mayor Leffingwell said "I would hope so," adding: "I'm for it." However, further details about who will be responsible for specific city expenses related to staging the event have still to be fully resolved, emphasising once again just what an expensive honour an F1 Grand Prix is for any "lucky" venue to have.