The under-construction Circuit of the Americas has appealed for race fans to petition Austin City Council in a bid to expedite approval for the deal it has to stage the United States Grand Prix from 2012.
A vote to approve the deal was delayed until later this week, potentially threatening the event's hopes of financial support from the Texas Major Events Fund. Although city comptroller Susan Combs has approved a grant of $25m every year of the race's ten-year deal, the agreement has met with opposition from citizens, who have now launched a legal action to try and stop the money being used for an event they claim contravenes several clauses in the Major Events Fund constitution [see story here
"Many of you from around the globe tuned in this past week to watch as the Austin City Council considered finalising the City's official endorsement of F1's United States Grand Prix," the circuit's missive began, "Your interest was obvious — so many of you were watching via the web that the City's internet server crashed during the meeting!
"We want to thank you for your enthusiasm and support of the United States Grand Prix. It is important for Council Members to know of your support because they have been asked to officially endorse the race. The endorsement provides the City and our race organisers access to a State of Texas fund set up many years ago by the Texas Legislature to attract large events like F1, the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four to Texas. The funds help offset the cost of producing the events, then are re-paid to the State following the events. As you may have seen, Council voted to delay taking action this past week, but all indications are they will provide the official endorsement once event contract details are finalised.
"We are ready to bring the world to Austin and you can help make that happen. Take a moment today to send a message to Council Members through the AustinF1Facts.com
website. Urge them to support endorsement of the race and let them know you want to see F1 come to the US once again. Council meets on Wednesday 29 June to make its final vote, so send in your email today.
"Thank you for helping F1 in the US cross the finish line!"
A leading lawyer, however, has suggested that sorting out the finer points of a sponsorship contract between the city of Austin and the event promoters may take longer than a few days.
The deal, drawn up by the Circuit of Americas, would allow the promoters to collect the $25m hand-out from the Major Events Fund, insists that it is a tax incentive deal, in which the city cannot fail to win, but attorney Joe Turner insists that there is more to the contract that the obvious claims.
“This is a clearly complex document,” Turner told ynn.com
, "This is something you would want your lawyers to review and study for some period of time and make sure they covered all the bases in a document like this."
"They were trying to draft from the dais, and that is not a safe way to do a contract," Susan Moffat, an opponent to the race, said, "There needs to be a meeting of the minds about what everybody is agreeing to and, if there is still questions on it. It's just not prudent to sign an agreement like that."