Austin mayor says F1 can't look to city for bailout of struggling US Grand Prix

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AUSTIN, Texas — The mayor of Austin said Friday that Formula One officials can't look to the Texas capital city for a bailout of the financially struggling United States Grand Prix.

Mayor Steve Adler had suggested earlier in the week the city could explore options to aid the host track Circuit of the Americas, but then closed the door on a cash infusion from the city.

Adler said the state of Texas should stand by any previous agreement with track officials, who say the deal includes a promise of at least $25 million per year for 10 years from the state's Major Events Trust Fund to pay Formula One for the right to hold the race.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office confirmed this week it was cutting about $6 million from that total.

The U.S. Grand Prix still gets about $19.5 million from the trust fund and nearly $23 million total in public money.

"Austin benefits from having Formula One here and the State needs to abide by its agreement. And while we want to be supportive, Formula One cannot look to Austin for a bailout," Adler said in a statement.

But a 2010 letter to Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and signed by former Gov. Rick Perry, former Comptroller Susan Combs and former race promoter Tavo Hellmund, warns that if tax revenues fall short, the state could pay less than $25 million.

Any shortage to pay the sanction fee would have to be covered by the race promoter, according to the letter obtained By The Associated Press.

Circuit of the Americas officials did not respond to requests for comment. Track officials and Ecclestone have said the funding reduction could threaten the future of the Austin race after just four years.

Perry and Combs are no longer in office, and the trust fund was moved this year to Abbott's office. Abbott's office changed how it calculates payments after a state auditor's report in September criticized the previous formula as too generous.

The $300 million Circuit of the Americas was built with private money for the purpose of hosting the U.S. Grand Prix. Track officials have said the event has pumped "hundreds of millions" of dollars into the Austin and Texas economies since 2012 and applied for state funding under the same formula as Super Bowls, NCAA basketball tournaments and other events.

"We're hopeful F1 will continue to race here," track officials said earlier this week.

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