Over the weekend, Austin, Texas’ newspaper, the American-Statesman, ran an editorial that’s worth perusing given the paper, at this point, is among the “outside world’s” (that’s us, excepting you Texan readers) best windows on the reaction to news that Formula 1 would be gracing the Hill Country.
The headline to the editorial probably says what you need to know: “Formula One plan in Austin a long way from checkered flag.”
Here’s a few more bits and pieces:
Everything about it is big, including the potential price tag for the facility (as much as $250 million), the potential economic impact on the region (untold millions of dollars) and the potential for raising Austin’s reputation around the world.
Will any of this ever happen? We don’t know. Would it be a good thing for Austin? At first blush, it seems that way, but it’s far too early to tell and there are far too many questions to answer.
For many of you, the first question might be “What is Formula One?” It’s a form of racing (think Ferrari, Lotus-Cosworth, McLaren-Mercedes) that has a dedicated, often upscale following around the world. But, like soccer, it’s had a spotty record in the U.S. This year’s major races have been in locales such as Bahrain, Malaysia, China and Monaco. The last Formula One race in the U.S. was held in 2007 in Indianapolis.
In coming months, we will find out the answer to this question as well as all of the others surrounding Austin’s future as a grand prix city. Until we have those answers, it’s best if we hold back on dividing into pro-Formula One and anti-Formula One camps. There are just too many unknowns at this point.
Flattering? Sure. But as more than one group (including a minor-league baseball teams whose effort to get city money to build a stadium here was nixed by voters in 1995) has learned, in this town there’s no guarantee that flattery gets you anywhere.
Show us the plans. Show us the impact. Show us the money.
Seems safe to say that the paper hasn’t gone “all in” on this idea. And the comments at the paper’s website that I’ve seen suggest Austinites are pretty divided, too.
If this were Todd’s beloved home state of Missouri poised to be hosting an F1 race, I’d be tossing around “Show Me State” references left and right to sum up where we seem to be.
I guess in this case we just have to go with this reminder: Don’t mess with Texas.
Let’s hope that’s not a lesson Bernie Ecclestone has to learn the hard way.