Questions as to whether the Circuit of the Americas is eligible to receive funding from the Texas state government’s Major Events Trust Fund have again been brought into the spotlight and are threatening to overshadow the build-up to the Austin venue’s inaugural Grand Prix event last this year.
If it is eligible, the venue will receive up to $250 million in taxpayer funding that will go towards its sanctioning fees over the course of its contract with Formula One Management.
However, in March, Jerry Patterson, the General Land Office of Texas’ commissioner, questioned whether the circuit had followed due process to be eligible for such funding.
According to Mr Patterson’s query – which he forwarded to the state’s attorney-general, Greg Abbott – the circuit must have filed an application with FOM to host the race before the funding was approved by state comptroller Susan Combs.
Mr Abbott’s issued his response on Friday, and this created further confusion when it read: “The Austin area had been selected as the location for the 2012 United States Grand Prix based on an application submitted to Formula One Management Limited.
“Unless an application for an event as defined in the statute is submitted to a site selection organization, that event is ineligible for METF funding. Whether such an application was actually submitted in this case is a matter of factual dispute that cannot be resolved through the opinion process.”
His comments forced a hastily-worded statement from COTA officials, who played down a possible breach of process.
“We have worked with the local organizing committee in following the process to secure and host this international event," circuit president Steve Sexton said.
“This event will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Texas economy while creating thousands of new full- and part-time jobs and will have a positive impact on our community. We look forward to the first FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ in Austin this November and to working with state, county and city officials to create another key economic driver for Central Texas.”
The United States Grand Prix will take place between November 16-18.