Austin has made it to the final four in its bid to host the Summer X Games, the annual four-day mini-Olympics for extreme action sports.
Austin will contend with Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte to host the X Games for three years beginning in 2014, ESPN announced Tuesday.
The Summer X Games have featured edgy sports such as skateboarding, MotoCross and RallyCross and have been aired on ESPN — which created the competition — as well as on ESPN2 and ABC. This year the games have expanded to become a global event, with six stops including France, Brazil, Spain and Germany.
The games began as the “Extreme Games” in 1995. While the winter games found a home in Aspen, for more than a decade the X Games were held in the Los Angeles area. However, a new contract with the Staples Center was not reached and bids by Long Beach and Pasadena did not make this latest cut.
According to ESPN, more than 20 cities submitted initial bids for winter or summer games, including Houston and Fort Worth, which has the Texas Motor Speedway.
Circuit of the Americas has been behind Austin’s bid. The 3.4-mile circuit staged a Formula One race last November and recently hosted a MotoGP motorcycling Grand Prix. The circuit also has an amphitheater that can hold more than 14,000 people and has explored the possibility of staging everything from professional tennis to the Olympic beach volleyball trials.
Charlotte has the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s also home to what could be an intriguing site for an extreme event, the U.S. National Whitewater Center. That center boasts the world’s longest man-made whitewater river, with rapids that can reach Class IV.
ESPN said, however, it is Detroit which has mounted the biggest social media campaign to attract the games and recently picked up the support of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
Austin’s summer weather could be a drawback, but that hasn’t appeared to hurt the city’s bid so far.
“We are thrilled that Austin is on the short list,” Matthew Payne, executive director of the Austin Sports Commission, said in a release from the circuit. “We feel that the world-class venue at Circuit of the Americas is the perfect location for the ESPN X Games. If we are selected, the exposure for the city of Austin would be great on all fronts.”
ESPN will visit the four remaining sites and is expected to be in Austin the week of June 3-7. The host city will be announced this summer.
“We’re excited to try to win this great event, and hope our venue competes well against the other finalist sites,” circuit chairman Bobby Epstein said. “We’re all about entertainment and competition. If we had a mountain at COTA, we’d have gone for the winter games too.”