Circuit of the Americas officials are expected to go before the Austin City Council this week to ask for help with the circuit’s bid to land the X Games.
The circuit is seeking for the city to become the endorsing municipality for the event, which would satisfy a requirement for the circuit to be eligible to obtain money from the Texas comptroller’s Events Trust Fund.
According to a memo to the council from Marc Ott, the city manager, there would be no requirement for the city to pay any funds or application fees and the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee would be the sole designee in applying for the state funds.
Circuit president Steve Sexton will make a presentation Tuesday in advance of a Thursday meeting of the council. Circuit chairman Bobby Epstein said the meeting with the council is also about building support for the bid.
‘We need some people to help us,” Epstein said. “Let’s try to activate as a city.”
Austin is one of four finalists to land the Summer X Games for the United States from 2014 to 2016, along with Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte, N.C.
“We’re clearly the underdog. We’re the latecomer. Detroit and Chicago are the powerhouses,” Epstein said. “But I think we’re a good fit. Austin is a young, cool, athletic, fit city.”
The X Games are something of the Olympics for extreme sports such as skateboarding and motocross, but they are more than just fun and games.
According to a study conducted for the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission, a private nonprofit that helps attract and retain major sports and entertainment events, the 2010 Los Angeles X Games added at least $50 million in identifiable benefit to that city.
“We could crush that,” Epstein said.
The Los Angeles figure included $12 million in increased tourism, with 58,000 added visitors days, and about $6 million spent setting up and televising the games.
The study also pegged the value of the media exposure at $20 million for 27.5 hours of X Games programming that aired in 50 states and 175 countries.
In Los Angeles, several venues were used to stage the games, but Epstein said, “There’s a way to do all of them here.”
He said ESPN had some very creative ideas for using the circuit. Epstein said he could envision the skateboarders doing aerial tricks on ramps on the stretch between the main grandstand and the paddock, with suites available there for corporate clients.
Epstein also said that if Austin’s bid was successful, the X Games would not be locked into a sweltering middle-of-the-summer date; ESPN would be flexible with the date.
The event was conceived by ESPN in 1995 as the Extreme Games and was rebranded as the X Games a year later. The winter games debuted in 1999, and recently the games have grown into an international circuit of six events.
For a decade the Los Angeles area was the U.S. stop for the summer games, but ESPN opened up the bidding last year. The circuit is expecting a visit from ESPN early next month, and the winning city will be chosen this summer.
Epstein said that, unlike with Los Angeles, some of the venues might not have to be torn down after the X Games if Austin has the winning bid.
“If they were up year-round, the athletes could come and train,” Epstein said.
Detroit has mounted a social media campaign, including a video, and Epstein would like to see Austin do the same.
“Let’s put the X in Texas,” Epstein said.