Breaking: Documents peg USGP track’s naming rights in the millions

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The promoters trying to build a track to run the USGP in Austin hope to sell the rights to parts of the track for as much as $7 million and — AND — make another $12 million annually from other forms of racing, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting.*

The promoters also see another $5 million possible from other rentals.

It’s all from papers released by the Texas State Comptroller, Susan Combs, following the paper’s open-records request.* Here’s a link to the Statesman, plus some other — kind of insider — news:

For those keeping score at home, that leaves only the office of Gov. Rick Perry that continues to withhold some F1 records — even though the AG’s office ruled in mid-August that, as was the case at the other government agencies, Full Throttle’s documents submitted to the governor fell under the state’s Public Information Act and thus should be released.

Instead, Perry’s office, unlike the city and comptroller’s office, has decided to give Hellmund an opportunity to appeal the decision. According to a spokeswoman, Full Throttle legally has 30 days to file an appeal in Travis County District Court. If he doesn’t, said Johanna Hopkins, the documents will be released then.

Now, I guess I could act all demure, but I’m not feeling it today. I’ll instead note that I mentioned this very issue back on August 16th:

There’s one idea I haven’t seen mentioned yet (again, I think I’ve seen lots of the coverage, but not all, so maybe it has been talked about): selling the “stadium rights.”

What might this complex’s name be worth? While we aren’t in the go-go ’90s and early 2000s, when companies were slapping their names on every new football (American version) and baseball stadium, there still must be some value to claiming the “Formula 1 Blog Motorsports Park” or whatever the name might be.

I like it: The U.S. Grand Prix at Formula 1 Blog Motorsports Park. Kinda catchy?

It has long struck me as a strange quirk in American sports that fans seem to be OK with selling the names to most every stadium (a few classics like Wrigley Field are the exception… wait, Wrigley’s also a big company?!? Oh my!) but not plastering uniforms with ads, ala (European) football/soccer jerseys.

To get maximum value, any “sale” of the complex also would have to leverage the other events being bandied about as potential “tenants”: NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS. It might even help the sale if there were a few non-motorsports events to broaden the audience. Air shows, maybe? (Of course, barbecues, as we have mentioned. How about a U.S. BBQ Championship held there?)

OK, enough with sort of tooting my own horn. But I’m glad I wasn’t totally out in left field, and I think it’s a good sign that the promoters — Tavo Hellmund and others — are focusing on a broad base of support for the track and not relying solely on Formula 1. We all know that one week of racing isn’t going to be able to keep this track on the right side of the ledger.

Now… I wonder what the documents Gov. Perry is holding on to say.

* Note: There is nothing — nothing! — more fun as a journalist than a good, ongoing story. And the Statesman is holding to one of my favorite journalistic tenants: Every good story deserves a follow. Way to keep on this one, boys (and any girls).
* Comptroller, of course, is the person in charge of comps.

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