There were some shock waves sent through the Twitterverse today as news of parking fees at the Circuit of the Americas surfaced that will see the Austin GP ratchet up the credit card bill by $200 for a three-day parking pass. Perusing the reaction, I saw a lot of anger and proclamations centered around not attending the race.
I have not spoken the COTA officials on the issue but I imagine that the value wasn’t arrived at half-heartedly. Scarcity raises prices and the desire to avoid gridlock also has an impact on pricing as well as the desire to see public transportation used to its fullest instead of clogging infrastructure leading to the circuit. this isn’t new, I recall the traffic jam in Kentucky for a NASCAR event…these things can happen and they create such a negative impact on teh fans who are mired by it that it could affect attendance the following year.
I’m not justifying a $200 parking pass because adding that to your $400 weekend race tickets means you’re in the realm of $600 and that doesn’t cover lodging. The Formula One race will be expensive and the biggest question is, did you think it would be cheap? A purpose-built Tilke track with all the sustainability elements to its infrastructure and tight construction schedules (read overtime labor) as well as the premier motor racing sport to the tune of $300M+ was never going to be the racing deal of the century at $69 for a weekend pass and free parking.
We’ve said it a million times…track economics have to work and right now we know they have a Formula 1 race and a few other series agreeing for 2013 as well but they do have to recover the cost of building the circuit. Perhaps the real test will be the cost of parking and weekend passes for an ALMS event or MotoGP event. Loving F1 is difficult. Team swag and official F1 merchandise costs a fortune and that is the knock-on effect of a sport that spends somewhere north of $100-150M for the top teams. Everyone has a role , risk and stake in F1. Circuit owners must make their investment pay off, promoters want their return on investment for the sanctioning fees and in the end, fans will pay for it all or the race won’t succeed. When a tax increase happens per a gallon of fuel, that tax is simply passed on to the consumer and so to is the cost of F1.