Ross Burkhart, Austin American-Statesman
Published 9:04 p.m. ET July 10, 2020
AUSTIN, Texas — The Formula One United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Oct. 22-25 at Circuit of the Americas, is “in serious jeopardy,” COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein told the American-Statesman in an email Friday.
On Wednesday, COTA posted a now-deleted tweet announcing the cancellation of October’s MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
“The Formula One United States Grand Prix faces a similar situation,” Epstein said, “although they have scheduled stops in Brazil and Mexico. Those stops make a North American race more feasible, but the event is likewise in serious jeopardy.”
In June, Epstein told the (Austin) American-Statesman that he expected an announcement regarding all three North American races “in the coming days.”
The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the state at a rapid pace, with the Department of State Health Services reporting Friday that 10,002 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas.
COTA officials said the venue did not have pandemic cancellation insurance for any of its events and that 2020 has “been a zero.”
“A normal year sees nearly 1 million visitors come to events in Southeast Austin,” a COTA spokeswoman said in an email Friday, “but this year has been a complete loss.”
According to a study from Angelou Economics, an Austin-based consulting firm, 2019′s MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas brought in $202 million of spending for the state’s economy, with $95 million being attributed to Austin specifically.
In 2019, the MotoGP race welcomed 120,500 spectators over a three-day period.
A statement from Dorna, MotoGP’s parent company, said the event is likely to resume in April 2021 and possible dates are being discussed. The deleted tweet from COTA first announcing the cancellation revealed dates for the 2021 race, but those were not addressed in the statement.
COTA declined to comment on how the cancellation of November’s MotoGP event and potentially October’s F1 event would affect its employees. Its website indicates 46,100 jobs are supported by the venue’s annual activities and operations.
In June, Epstein declined to reveal specific figures but said more than half of the staff has been laid off or furloughed since the pandemic set in earlier in the year. At least half of the track’s employees were laid off in March.