F1 expected to boost Austin economy

As preparations are underway for the thousands of visitors that will descend upon Austin for the F1 race, Austin Fan Fest, and other F1 related events, city officials are anticipating a big economic boom from the sporting event.

F1 racing driver Fernando Alonso stopped by an Austin Shell station Wednesday.  The two-time world champion from Spain spoke about The Circuit of the Americas track. 

"I'm looking forward to be in the car, I think it seems a spectacular lay out, and I think could become one of the greatest circuits in the Formula One calendar," said Alonso. 

He, along with the other drivers racing in the U.S. Grand Prix, are the reason that up to 300,000 people are expected in the Austin area this weekend.  According to an F1 economic impact study that was done for the City of Austin by an outside committee, this year's U.S. Grand Prix is expected to bring in around $6.1 million. 

"We are completely sold out, and have been for quite some time," said Drew McQuade, the General Manager at the W Hotel Austin. 

Staff there have been preparing for F1 for months.  Bartenders are mixing up F1-themed cocktails, the hotel will be home to a pop up nightclub, Blu at the W, and international guests should feel right at home. 

"We've got a language bank set up with our staff here and we're prepared with nine different languages that people speak fluently."

Downtown businesses like Patagonia are also opening their doors to F1 fans opening their wallets. 

"We're seeing a lot of visitors that are getting to explore our city and see what we have to offer," said Patagonia Assistant Manager Justine Beech.

Craig Slater, a reporter for Sky News, the FOX sister station in the UK, has been to ten F1 races around the world. 

"A race like this really does put this city in a bracket with some of the most vibrant cities in the world.  Places like Singapore, Barcelona.  Lots of countries want to have a Formula One Race: Mexico, Russia, India has one, China has one. The world's fastest growing economies see this as a real asset to them." 

He says from he's seen, Austin is up there with the best of them. 

"We've enjoyed the wonderful BBQ foods, we've enjoyed the wonderful honkytonk music, been trying to do a bit line dancing while I've been here, but everyone has been most welcoming I have to say."

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