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Volume 24 No. 159

Events and Attractions

More than 117,000 fans "packed into the just-completed Circuit of the Americas" in Austin yesterday to watch the U.S. Grand Prix, according to the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Despite "beer shortages, long shuttle bus lines after the race and delays on some roads leaving the track, fans and drivers were eager to praise the event." Race winner Lewis Hamilton said, "This is probably one of the best, if not the best grand prix we’ve had all year." Race organizers "not only finished the job ... but just as challenging, race officials managed to move hundreds of thousands of people to and from the track with relative ease." The race drew "a distinctly different kind of Austin tourist, and for many it was the first time to visit the city." There were some "glitches ... most notably bottlenecks leaving some parking lots." Inside the track, some vendors "ran short of beer" and fans "reported food shortages on Friday and Saturday as well" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/19).

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS: In Austin, John Maher notes the three-day attendance total at the circuit "topped 265,000." Austin's first F1 Grand Prix "was as much spectacle as it was sport, and the atmosphere was Texas-sized and Texas-themed." Fans "by the thousands began lining the grass berms at the tricky Turn 1 and quirky Turn 19 as early as 9 a.m." The grandstands "filled in not long after that" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/19). In London, Ian Parkes writes it was "clear the public truly embraced Formula One," which was "back Stateside after a five-year absence." Downtown Austin also was "a hive of activity." F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said, "Everything's good, and everyone in Austin seems happy. It's good when you do something and it works. It has been much better than I expected, particularly when you think that 12 months ago there wasn't a race. Hopefully we'll have another couple of events (in America) in the future, so we will see what happens" (London INDEPENDENT, 11/19). In N.Y., Brad Spurgeon writes the crowd "watched a wild and suspenseful battle ... on a track and at a site that delivered all of its promise and more." This was a "victory for Austin, which went to great lengths to ensure success after the series failed to take hold at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway" from '00-07. There also were "almost none of the anticipated traffic concerns." From a "sporting point of view, Austin delivered in a way that Indianapolis failed, by providing a track built for Formula One cars" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/19).

BACK TOGETHER: The GUARDIAN's Paul Weaver writes the U.S. and F1 "embraced each other like long-parted lovers." COTA was "a more than worthy venue for the raucous travelling circus." Yesterday's race "represented a triumph for both the sport and the nation." America "knows how to put on a show and on their first track specifically built for the purposes of F1 came a magnificent triumph, a fine race played out before a near sell-out crowd with a strong Mexican flavour" (GUARDIAN, 11/19). In London, Tom Dart writes Austin "embraced" F1. It was an "exciting race as well as a blunder-free debut for a circuit that seemed more of a pipedream than a probability even a year ago." Organizers said that about "15 per cent" of spectators came from abroad. The "percentage of wealthy people appeared high" (LONDON TIMES, 11/19). Also in London, Tom Cary writes the race was "the perfect result for a sport desperate to establish a foothold in America" (London TELEGRAPH, 11/19).

HERE TO STAY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's A.J. Baime writes the race "had it all: blue skies, high speeds and a tight duel for victory that went down to the checkered flag." The event, which will be in Austin through '21, "not only drew high praise from among the mobs of American fans, but also fans from Europe, South America and among the racing teams." The event's "success, just short of a sellout, suggests that F1 might yet have a future in this country" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/19). In San Antonio, Richard Oliver writes the race "left the landscape irrevocably changed." Former Vikings Owner Red McCombs, the "primary investor in the $400 million complex, felt like the real winner." Atop "nearly 330 acres of rangeland some 15 miles from downtown Austin, he'd financially spearheaded the construction of an auto-racing Oz." When the drivers "answered the start, the stands were largely full." McCombs' "Oz, at least on one Sunday, looked far better than most expected" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 11/19). In Austin, Mary Ann Roser writes under the header, "F1 Boon And Bust For Businesses" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/19).

WHERE'S THE LOVE? noted fans "might have thought a grand prix on US soil might have at least warranted some race coverage." But so "embedded in the big three sports remain the press that even that did not happen." There was "no mention at all of Lewis Hamilton's win in national paper USA Today, while the New York Post managed four lines." The Washington Post "gave it seven lines, and the New York Daily News blanked it altogether." In "fairness, the NASCAR season finale barely warranted any coverage either." The N.Y. Times "carried an overview of the weekend under the headline 'Formula One Makes Successful Return To U.S.'" (, 11/19).

Farmers Classic Tournament Dir Bob Kramer confirmed the ATP stop at UCLA is in the process of being sold to a group in Bogota, Colombia. The event would occur in July on hard courts in that city next year. Kramer said IMLA Entertainment & Sports Marketing has a letter of agreement to buy the sanction, pending ATP approval. IMG advised the Southern California Tennis Association, which owns the event and has lost $3M over four years. The event held talks over the past 18 months with all the major tennis agencies -- Lagardere, CAA and Octagon -- about buying the event, as well as Larry Ellison, the owner of the event in Indian Wells, Calif. But those talks failed (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: In L.A., Bill Dwyre reported the SCTA had "lost money for four years" and came to the decision because compounding the financial losses was the fact that their July dates were "positioned close enough to the end of Wimbledon and far enough from the beginning of the U.S. Open to make them prime time for players to stay home." Theirs was a U.S. tournament "in what is now a European sport." Kramer said that the tournament "lived for years on the support of great U.S. players." SCTA Treasurer/Farmers Classic Chair Franklin Johnson said, "As recently as four weeks ago we still thought we had a chance, that we would get some local sponsorship." The "best hope" was AEG. But when Phil Anschutz "decided to sell his entertainment division, that hope dried up." Johnson said, "About any kind of local offer would have kept us here." Dwyre noted Kramer and Johnson will now "ponder possible Fed Cup and Davis matches at UCLA" (L.A. TIMES, 11/16).