All right, Detroit: our loss in Texas is your gain, so here’s your chance a year early. The Austin American-Statesman reports that uncertainty surrounding Texas’ funding for events convinced ESPN not to return to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in 2017 for the fourth and final year of its X Games contract. [Update: Austin is for-sure losing the X Games in 2017, but an ESPN spokesman informed us that this was not the reason they chose to cut Austin’s run short—Austin’s brutally hot summers are. Read that update here.]
A source with contacts at ESPN told the Statesman that 2016 would be its last year in Austin, and that ESPN is expected to make an announcement Tuesday confirming the decision.
Like Formula One, the X Games receives funding from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund. The METF is fed by certain kinds of tax revenue generated by out-of-state visitors. COTA nearly lost its Formula One race for 2016 after a change in the way METF contributions for events are calculated reduced the state fund’s contribution for F1 from $25 million to $19.5 million for 2016.
ESPN is now reportedly worried that the same will happen to their funding, and will announce their intentions to pull the plug a year early tomorrow. City documents obtained by the Statesman show that the X Games received $1.1 million in state incentives for their 2014 event.
In addition to Detroit’s heavily publicized bid for the X Games, other cities in the running include Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago.
Austinites, enjoy your massive celebration of all that is rad and extreme—which usually includes a healthy serving of motocross, flat track and off-road racing events—for one more year. The entire circus appears to be heading elsewhere thanks to the surprise changes in state funding made by Governor Abbott’s office.
Austin’s last Summer X Games event before it moves somewhere else will be on June 2-5.
UPDATE [9:05 a.m.]: ESPN confirmed this morning that they are seeking a new city to host the Summer X Games for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018. No reason was specified for the move to end Austin’s run early, although the fact that they’ve been to nine cities in twenty years means that Austin’s original four-year deal to host the X Games was longer than most.
Get those thirsty promo reels ready. The X Games is officially moving elsewhere.