Texas controller Susan Combs has warned organisers of the United States Grand Prix that they won't be handed any advance payments from the local government and has admitted she is concerned about the situation developing at the Circuit of the Americas.
Work was halted at the venue on Tuesday following a dispute between circuit bosses and race promoter Full Throttle Productions, casting fresh doubt over a race that a number of question marks have already been placed against [See separate story HERE
The fact that a second race on American soil is set to take place in 2013 looks like lessening the economic impact to the Austin area of hosting a race, which has also raised extra question marks about any government involvement, with Combs issuing a statement to make her position clear.
“When the United States Grand Prix was formally announced, it was the only Formula 1 race scheduled in the US,” she said. “During the past 18 months, organisers have taken many steps to bring high-profile motor racing to Central Texas, including the development of the Circuit of the Americas, and the announcement of the global MotoGP and V8 Supercar race series starting in 2013.
“The recent announcement of an annual Formula 1 race in New Jersey is a concern, as additional races have the potential to reduce the number of attendees to a Texas race, thereby decreasing the economic impact. Additionally, the reports of a slowdown in construction at the Circuit of the Americas, and recently publicised disagreements between the race rights-holder and the circuit developers have prompted speculation about whether the Austin race will even occur. The ongoing controversies are a concern and we will continue to monitor them.
“Let me state clearly: We have not paid out any money for the Formula 1 event. The only dollars that can be spent on the United States Grand Prix are tax revenues attributable to the successful running of a race. The state of Texas will not be paying any funds in advance of the event. Further, as is the case with all METF events, each application will be reviewed and analysed for its likely economic impact and only after the race occurs would any funds be disbursed.
“If an METF application is submitted, it will be thoroughly vetted and economic impact data scrutinized based on the actual circumstances for that event. Ultimately, I am responsible for protecting the interests of Texas taxpayers, first and foremost. I will not allow taxpayer dollars to be placed at risk. My position on that has not changed.”
The METF, or Major Events Trust Fund, was created in 2003 to help bring large events to the state of Texas, with past events to benefit including NFL's Superbowl.