Statesman Construction Update:
BTW, if any of you were planning to reserve a spot in line for a PSL, today is the last day to do so.
I wonder if the COTA people are aware of the tragic history of that major gas pipeline which runs along Elroy road on the north edge of their property?
Rates for many hotels skyrocket on F1 weekend
By Gary Dinges
Updated: 6:08 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012
Published: 10:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, 2012
The downtown-area Super 8 still has rooms available for Austin's Formula One race weekend in November - if you're willing to shell out more than $500 a night.
The budget hotel at 1201 N. Interstate 35 is just one of many motels regionwide that have dramatically hiked prices on race day, Nov. 18.
Other examples: A Best Western in Lockhart would run you at least $450 a night. And the Hampton Inn in Buda has rooms available - starting at $407.
Rates are, for the most part, higher just before and after the event, as well.
Hotel operators' decision to dramatically increase room rates during the F1 race is not a violation of the state's price-gouging laws. Those laws go into effect only when a state of emergency or disaster is declared by the governor, according to the Texas attorney general's office.
The eye-popping prices don't surprise consumer advocate Chris Elliott, author of "Scammed," a book focusing on ways to save money and get better service.
"Hotels know it's a sellers' market for their rooms," Elliott said. "They know people are willing to pay more."
Many hotels are already booked solid for the race weekend. A search of Travelocity.com shows rooms are unavailable on Nov. 18 at 180 inns in Austin and across the region.
Figures from Smith Travel Research show Central Texas has about 30,000 hotel rooms - not nearly enough for the 120,000 attendees expected at the still-under-construction track.
F1 organizers have said as many as 4,500 of those rooms will be needed for people directly affiliated with the race, including drivers, sponsors and reporters from around the globe who will be covering the event.
Smith Travel reports that November occupancy in the Austin market is, on average, 63.4 percent.
On race day at the Super 8, $475 gets you a room with two queen beds, a fridge, a microwave, and free Wi-Fi and breakfast, according to Super8.com. Add in taxes, and the total jumps to $546.25.
That's five times the Austin area's average daily room rate for November, which is $99.01, according to Smith Travel. The average is higher at downtown hotels, coming in at $137.11.
One week later, on Nov. 25, the Super 8 website shows the rate falling to $77.05 with tax.
A manager at the Super 8 declined to speak with the American-Statesman.
The Super 8 isn't alone. Travelocity shows that a spot at the Staybridge Suites at 13087 U.S. 183 near Lakeline Mall can be had for $451 on Nov. 18.
Opt for the hotel's romance package, which includes sparkling wine, flowers and chocolates, and the cost could go as high as $835.
The next Sunday, the Staybridge Suites website indicates a similar room is $117 if paid for in advance.
Prices could change, though, as the race gets closer, according to the hotel's manager.
"Our rates haven't been set in stone yet," said Michelle Williams. "We're still trying to analyze the situation. What you see out there now may not be what we end up charging.
Rates, in part, are based on what rooms in Indianapolis went for when that city hosted F1, Williams said.
F1 attendees have already booked some rooms at the Staybridge Suites, according to Williams, and the hotel has had inquiries from several tour groups.
Posted F1 weekend rates at both the Staybridge Suites and Super 8 are about double what hotels, on average, charge during South by Southwest, according to Smith Travel.
During the 2011 festival, occupancy downtown, where the bulk of events takes place, hovered around 100 percent for nine straight days, with an average nightly rate of about $240.
Many larger hotels rely on computers to set rates based on complex algorithms, said Elliott, the consumer advocate, while prices at smaller motels are typically determined by the manager or owner. Either way, he cautioned hotel operators to be careful not to go too high.
"It's a little like playing a game of chicken," Elliott said. "You have a perishable commodity that expires on race day. If you have empty rooms, you lose."
Austin could use more hotel rooms, particularly downtown - not just for F1 but all year long, according to Denise Garcia, executive director of the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association.
"We certainly need another convention-style hotel," she said. "I definitely think Austin could support another large hotel with all the events we're seeing."
Several large hotels in the works in Austin will increase capacity, but they won't be completed for a year or more. A 1,000-room JW Marriott luxury hotel on Congress Avenue, for instance, isn't set to come online until early 2015.
Garcia said she expects most hotel rooms across the region to fill well before race weekend, but with this being the first race in Central Texas, there are a lot of unknowns.
"Folks are being proactive in getting their rooms early on," she said, "but it's hard to gauge right now what will happen."
The higher-than-normal rates extend well beyond the city limits.
Hotels.com indicates the Hampton Inn in Buda has rooms ranging in price from $407 to $529.
The Best Western in Lockhart is charging $450 and up for rooms on Nov. 18, according to BestWestern.com.
"It has been pretty steady in terms of inquiries, but not much yet in terms of bookings," said Robert Luna, a clerk at the Best Western. "People are comparison shopping right now. They're looking at prices throughout the area."
So will the hotel lower its rates to be more competitive?
"Nope," Luna said.
In New Braunfels, the Wingate Inn is offering a nonrefundable online rate of $323 for the night, or $380 for a cancelable reservation. Check in at the city's Econo Lodge if you're willing to pay $300 for the night.
The Hampton Inn, Econo Lodge and Wingate Inn didn't return telephone messages from the American-Statesman.
The prices in Buda, Lockhart, New Braunfels and other outlying communities are in many cases four to five times what travelers would normally pay, according to motel chain websites.
Tourism officials as far south as San Antonio and north to Waco are expecting an influx of F1 tourists, as well. Events in both cities, though, could eat into the number of available rooms.
Four conventions in San Antonio - all ending the day before the F1 race - will draw almost 7,000 attendees to downtown, potentially creating competition for rooms in the tourist-friendly Riverwalk area.
The Alamo City has 40,000 hotel rooms, according to the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We are of course expecting it to be very beneficial, but it's too early to tell what the exact results will be," said Casandra Matej, executive director of the bureau.
"We are starting to see limited leisure demand from Europe, and we are facilitating meetings between the Circuit of the Americas staff and our hotel community to ramp up."
In San Antonio, on the low end, rates at the Red Roof Inn on Interstate 10 East start at $49 on Nov. 18. A Travelodge and Super 8 on the Riverwalk top Travelocity's list, coming in at $238.
Folks willing to make the nearly two-hour drive from Waco to the track site in southeastern Travis County can get prices as low as $38 at the Knights Inn on I-35. The priciest room on Travelocity is $254 at the Courtyard by Marriott near downtown.
Waco has about 4,000 rooms for rent, city figures show. A Baylor football game is scheduled for Nov. 17, drawing as many as 50,000 fans, many of them out-of-towners in need of lodging. That threatens to make space scarce for F1 fans.
There is still hope for the budget-conscious. Not all Austin-area hotels and motels have raised their prices - at least not yet.
At Motel6.com, seven of the region's 10 Motel 6 locations still show openings, starting at $38 for a bed in San Marcos and going all the way up to $66 for a spot near I-35 and Oltorf Street.
Well, looks like the PSL/Season Ticket Pricing surveys are going out. Just completed mine.
Also, here's the latest COTA time-lapse, posted today:
ETA: For some reason that youtube video "has been removed by the user". Weird. Still works at the COTA FB page though: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v...type=2&theater
Last edited by mandingo; 02-22-2012 at 10:49 AM.
I took a bunch of construction photos yesterday morning & posted them to the FB page:
I'm just now getting around to posting some samples here. Enjoy:
The Media center on the left, then the west and east ends of the Pit/Paddock building:
Connecting the ends of the Pit/Paddock complex:
The Media Center:
Work on the Medical Center is just beginning:
East end of the Pit/Paddock and the Medical Center:
Pit/Paddock viewed from out around Turn 11 hairpin:
The "Longhorn Straight":
Turn 10 (downhill 130R?):
Trucks coming down from Turn 10 to the hairpin, delivering their loads, then returning home along the Longhorn back straight:
You're doing it wrong. Rookie.
Last edited by mandingo; 02-24-2012 at 10:36 PM.
AustinRaceHotels.com (@AustinRaceHotel) posted 18 new photos last night from her COTA tour of Monday afternoon.
From the front of the Pit/Paddock looking toward Turn 1:
Standing at Turn 11 looking down the back straight toward the stadium section:
From Turn 1, looking at the Medical Center, Pit/Paddock, and prep for Main Grandstand construction:
From the parking lot area looking to Turn 1:
How the hell are they going to get that race ready by November?
Very bad news. Please keep this gentleman in your thoughts & prayers:
By Patrick George | Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 03:49 PM
A man has suffered critical injuries after a tractor rolled over onto him at the Formula One construction site in Travis County, officials said.
Austin-Travis County EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said multiple units, including an ambulance and a StarFlight helicopter, are on the way to the site. The man, reported to be 30 years old, went into cardiac arrest, Hassinger said. His condition is unknown, as are the circumstances of the incident.
Check back for more details.
According to 10PM local TV news reports, he is still in critical condition. They showed video of the patient being wheeled from a StarFlight MedEvac helicopter into the ER at Brackenridge Hospital. No chest compressions were being perfomed and the Flight Nurse was supporting his respiratory efforts with a BVM. Hopefully these are good signs. Hope for the best.
Here's the latest update from the Statesman, 10:25PM:
BTW, I pushed these to the back burner yesterday due to the accident news, but I took a bunch of construction photos Monday morning. Any of you who follow my twitter feed (@austin_f1) may have already seen them, but for those of you who haven't, here they are:
For those of you not on Facebook, here are some highlights:
The east half of the Pit/Paddock Building, the media Center, and the beginnings of the Main Grandstand:
Grandstand construction going vertical on the west end near the Media Center:
Media Center and west end of Pit/Paddock Building:
East half of the Pit/Paddock Building:
East end of Pit/Paddock and the Medical Center:
Scraper making the steep Turn 1 climb:
Turn 11 Hairpin ( R), Turn 10 (L), and the Longhorn Straight:
Hairpin & Longhorn Straight:
The Hairpin is pretty tight:
Longhorn Straight. Yesterday's accident likely happened somewhere in the area beyond & right of the straight in this photo:
Love the elevation:
Man, when this is all done, this is going to be a gorgeous circuit! Can't wait for all the racing that will be coming our way!
Just landed at ABIA and flew by the site on final... It's looking good.
This $#@!'s gettin' real now:
Hellmund sues Circuit of The Americas investors, may seek to regain control:
Sounds like Tavo wanted a 25% stake in the COA and a 500k salary.... all without putting any of his own money in the project. That's pretty absurd.
As much as Tavo said he wanted an F1 race in his hometown, he seems to be doing everything possible to kill it.
and technically he's brought $0 to the table since the METF has rescinded it's previous offer to front the $25M ahead of time.
I just finished reading the Hellmund v. Accelerator Holdings legal petition. Some of you might be surprised by its contents. The latest COTA update from AutoWeek has a copy of it as well...
Here's the direct link to the petition:
BTW, for any of you who are interested in this case but don't have the time and/or the inclination to read all of it, I've made a sort of "Cliff's Notes" version of the Hellmund v. Accelerator petition. I've hit most of the high points and included some relevant quotes and paraphrased in other places. It's by no means comprehensive, but you should get a decent overview...
~ Hellmund had a 10-year agreement with FOM to hold the USGP in Austin.
~ A “Company Agreement”, entered into in December 2010, “required Epstein/McCombs to provide the funding” for the COTA circuit Hellmund had designed. The agreement established Hellmund as the only Class C manager, with a 10-year contract for employment as the Chairman of the FIA Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, with a yearly salary of $500,000.
~ “The sole basis of Epstein/McCombs' approximately 75% stake in the Company was their promises to fund it, not borrow against Hellmund's assets.”
~ “The Company Agreement requires that Hellmund use his best efforts to assign the
F1 Contracts to the Company only if Epstein/McCombs provide or raise $190 million of funding by March 31, 2011. However, Epstein/McCombs failed to commit the required funding by the deadline, thereby absolving Hellmund of any obligation to assign the Fl Contracts. Indeed, Epstein/McCombs missed the funding deadline by nearly six months, reporting they obtained the required funding on September 13, 2011. Even then, Epstein/McCombs refused to provide the documentation (e.g., commitments) of the funding necessary for Hellmund to assign the Fl Contracts.”
~ “Epstein/McCombs finally notified Hellmund, albeit six months late, that they had secured the $190 million in funding. However, Epstein/McCombs still refused to
provide Hellmund with any verification of the allegedly binding commitments for funding, which meant that the F1 Contracts could not be assigned. Ecclestone, the F1 head, himself made this abundantly clear in a letter to Hellmund: "I made it clear that the proposed circuit where you want to conduct your event, needed to provide an executed construction contract, proof of financial strength and that I required this documentation . . . . " In that same letter, Ecclestone aptly acknowledged that these "repeated failures" were "perhaps not of [Hellmund's] doing." Hellmund relayed this message to Epstein/McCombs to no avail. Epstein/McCombs still did not provide the necessary verification of the funding despite promises they would do so, jeopardizing
Hellmund's ability to assign the F1 Contracts to the Company and/or its subsidiaries.”
~ METF funding was negated by the COTA investors' refusal/inability to pay $4M to the METF to trigger the advance reimbursement payment, after COTA had excluded Hellmund from making the payment himself. They then plead ignorance. Company attorney Richard Suttle weighed in: "I am a little astounded that with all the work that has gone into
this issue, along with all the conversations and documentation that has occurred, that there can be any confusion about COTA's commitment to fund the $4mil." The investors ignored Suttle. The $4M was never paid. The guaranteed $250M ($25M x 10 years), arranged by Hellmund, was lost.
~ “the F1 Contracts could not be assigned until the Company:
(1) paid the $23 million sanctioning fee (which could no longer be paid from the METF),
(2) provided verification of binding commitments for construction funding (specifically $190 million which was now 4 months overdue), and
(3) provided a revised construction schedule.
Epstein/McCombs did not pay the sanctioning fee, never provided verification of the
funding (even after they claimed to have raised the $190 million six months after the deadline), and did not provide a revised construction schedule”
~ “Epstein/McCombs' refusal to pay the sanctioning fee under Hellmund's
F1 Contracts resulted in the termination of those contracts and new and more expensive contracts for the Company. The new F1 contracts required additional guarantees for future races, something not required in the original F1 Contracts. Additionally, due to Epstein/McCombs' substantial delay in paying the sanction fee, the Company owed late fees to Formula 1.
77. During Epstein/McCombs' well-publicized standoff with Ecclestone, it IS no
surprise Comptroller Combs announced that the State would not advance COT A any METF funds and would only consider releasing funds after a race occurred.
78. Again, Epstein/McCombs' gamesmanship (or lack of experience) destroyed
significant benefits for the Company- they lost the committed METF funding while having to ink a new, more expensive Formula 1 contract.”
~ COTA construction was underfunded from the start, and suffered repeated delays due to lack of funding & mismanagement by COTA investors. The entire project has been delayed & endangered by this underfunding and mismanagement. The investors also concealed the lack of funding from Hellmund.
~ “With no construction funding in place, Epstein/McCombs repeatedly entered and amended limited contracts with the construction company to proceed in small phases based on short-term personal guarantees. Epstein/McCombs concealed from Hellmund these construction schedule changes and the lack of funding.”
~ Attempting to secure construction loans, Epstein & McCombs attempted to leverage Hellmund's own asset (F1 race rights) for construction loans without using any of their own assets.
~ Epstein misled Hellmund regarding the nature and soil quality of the COTA land and the size and nature of natural gas pipelines running beneath it.
~ COTA investors agreed in writing on September 29, 2011 to an $18M buyout of Hellmund, relieving him of his position, his stake in the company, and of the F1 rights and rights to the MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas. They have since refused on multiple occasions to honor the agreement at scheduled closings and have not paid Hellmund his salary.
~ “Hellmund has not quit, nor has he been terminated. In fact, he continues pursuing the Company's best interests as Chairman and has actively sought - but has been foreclosed from - more involvement.”
~ Epstein & McCombs attempted 3 times in 2 months recently to illegally remove Hellmund from his position as Manager, but “No matter how many notices they sent or meetings they held to attempt the same unlawful removal, EpsteinlMcCombs failed every time for the same reason: the Company agreement requires Class C member approval and they never had it.”
~ Epstein & McCombs have repeatedly refused Hellmund access to financial records, despite written requests.
~ Allegations, even an admission that at least one or more associates of Epstein’s repeatedly & maliciously tampered with Hellmund's Wikipedia page in an attempt to discredit & marginalize him.
~ Hellmund turned down an offer to lead the New Jersey F1 Grand Prix of America effort
~ “Hellmund offered to buyout Epstein to salvage his dream. Although agreeing that a buy-out of one of the members might be necessary, Epstein responded: "There is no . . . way I'll let Tavo Hellmund buy me out."
~ Hellmund has invoked a buy/sell clause in the agreement, apparently desiring to buy McCombs’ share of the company.
Damn, what a mess. I don't know what to think as far as all the ownership/mgt crap
I just hope they build a kickass track/ facility and pull this thing off. In the back of my head I have a feeling that race day is going to approach and this thing is going to be no where close to ready
Is that Tavo's side of the story?
Super cliffs notes: Epstien and McCombs are giant asses and wanted to build this without risking any personal capital.
Didn't someone earlier ask about the MotoGP rights? This SportRider article confirms what I thought. COTA has not secured the MotoGP race rights. I hope they do so soon!
Tavo Hellmund, the racing promoter credited with envisioning and then creating the framework for the Austin F1 race through his contacts within the racing industry—including F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone—has filed suit against his former financial partners in the Austin venture...
...his longstanding motorsports contacts that enabled him to land a contract for a Formula One race in the Austin area (in addition to MotoGP and Australian V8 Supercars races in 2013), was pulled out from under him via “an improper and unlawful takeover” by McCombs/Epstein “withholding…promised funding.” The suit states that Hellmund offered McCombs and Epstein 75 percent of the venture in exchange for financial backing, but when they failed to pay Ecclestone the required $23 million fee for the original F1 race contract in September of last year, that contract Hellmund negotiated was cancelled (this theoretically put McCombs and Epstein in the driver’s seat for a new contract that wouldn’t include Hellmund…but it ended up resulting in a protracted stalemate with Ecclestone, who is a longtime friend of Hellmund’s, that was only saved at the last second).
...the significance of this brouhaha in Texas is that Hellmund still holds the MotoGP contract that was announced with much fanfare back in April 2011. Thus with this latest move, unless he signs it over to COTA or someone else in much more favor with current COTA management, the chances of the 2013 debut of MotoGP in Austin are pretty darn slim.
Hellmund in P1 to be Allsport boss?
This could be great for COTA, assuming they make things right. It could never hurt to have someone on your side in a senior F1 position.
which implies that they have the motogp rights because they apparently have the f1 rights.COTA investors agreed in writing on September 29, 2011 to an $18M buyout of Hellmund, relieving him of his position, his stake in the company, and of the F1 rights and rights to the MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas. They have since refused on multiple occasions to honor the agreement at scheduled closings and have not paid Hellmund his salary.
Football .. Basketball .. Baseball .. Other Sports .. RC Didn't Offer .. Gamboool
Varsity .. Hole in the Wall .. PCL .. Einstein's .. Nasty's .. GM Steakhouse .. NSAA
Bada Bing .. Can you help me with this? .. Shagslist .. Cloak Room .. Classics .. Bellmont