Circuit of the Americas Dir of Events & Entertainment Paul Thornton and "about a dozen other staff members" this past weekend traveled to L.A. to see what Thornton calls "the underbelly of the X Games" in preparation for COTA to begin hosting the event next year, according John Maher of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Austin Sports Commission Exec Dir Matthew Payne also made the trip and said, "My biggest takeaway is that the event is going to be doable at the race track. I now know for a fact that it's going to fit very well with Austin." Thornton said that ESPN reps will "be in Austin sometime after Labor Day to begin ironing out the specifics of staging the multi-sport event." He added that one difference for Austin’s staging of the X Games is "they will feel more like a festival." Maher noted another difference is that almost all of the events "will be at one location," while L.A. used facilities like Staples Center and Irwindale Speedway, which are not near one another. Thornton said of ESPN, "They're salivating that we have so much space." Meanwhile, Payne said, "I don’t think it will be one of those events that takes every hotel room in the city, but attention-wise, I think it can only help. It will escalate our image" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/9).