SBD/November 1, 2012/Facilities

Circuit Of The Americas Ready For Inaugural F1 Race, But Attendance Concerns Linger

Circuit of the Americas has sold 100,000 tickets at an average of $400 each.
The Circuit of the Americas is a "first-rate facility, more modern and F1-worthy than anything presented previously in the States, but questions remain as to whether it will draw a consistent and enthusiastic audience," according to Jeff Olson of USA TODAY. COTA President Steve Sexton said, "Not only is this the first purpose-built facility for F1 dating to Watkins Glen, but we always intended to make this world class. So far, we've had fantastic reviews from drivers and fans." COTA "can seat 100,000 spectators and has sold that many tickets (at an average of $400 each for the weekend)." There are "videoscreens throughout the circuit." Sexton on Monday said, "We've got our work cut out for us, but construction is not one of the issues." F1 has "tried and failed in America in multiple ways -- street races, permanent road courses and most recently at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000 to 2007." The series "continues to pursue the U.S. market in part because many of its partners -- namely Ferrari, Mercedes and Pirelli -- have large market shares" (USA TODAY, 11/1).

WAITING GAME: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle writes the decision to delay the F1 Grand Prix of America in New Jersey until '14 "brought an end to a turbulent, two-year effort that was punctuated by a back-and-forth exchange between" Grand Prix of America Exec Chair Leo Hindery and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone. Hindery "insisted the race would happen in 2013" while Ecclestone "regularly questioned the event’s viability." Their "battle was over one thing: money." Ecclestone said that Hindery "failed to raise the cash to pay race fees and got behind on payments." Hindery "insisted as recently as last summer that money was not an issue," but sources said that he "struggled to find enough investors for the project and his search was complicated by rising construction costs" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/29 issue).
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