• US Grand Prix

US GP funding dispute rumbles on

ESPN Staff
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The Circuit of the Americas is confident it will be eligible for funding © Circuit of the Americas
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Questions over the US Grand Prix's eligibility to receive state funding from the Texas' Major Events Trust Fund (METF) continue to overshadow the build-up to the first race in Austin later this year.

Should the grand prix qualify for the funding, the state will pay up to $250 million in race hosting fees over the duration of the contract if enough money is recouped from sales tax income. However, in March the commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas, Jerry Patterson, requested the opinion of the state's attorney general, Greg Abbott, as to whether the grand prix's application met the correct criteria. Patterson specifically asked whether the circuit had submitted an application to Formula One Management to host the race - as required by the statute that created the METF - before state comptroller Susan Combs agreed to the funding.

The attorney general's response was published on Friday and said the state comptroller had argued "that the Austin area had been selected as the location for the 2012 United States Grand Prix based on an application submitted to Formula One Management Limited." But in his summary the attorney general said: "Unless an application for an event as defined in the statute is submitted to a site selection organization, that event is ineligible for METF funding. Whether such an application was actually submitted in this case is a matter of factual dispute that cannot be resolved through the opinion process."

Soon after the attorney general's opinion was published, the Circuit of the America's issued a statement saying it is confident the grand prix had followed the correct process in applying for funding.

"We have worked with the local organizing committee in following the process to secure and host this international event," circuit president Steve Sexton said. "This event will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Texas economy while creating thousands of new full- and part-time jobs and will have a positive impact on our community. We look forward to the first FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ in Austin this November and to working with state, county and city officials to create another key economic driver for Central Texas."

The race is set to take place on November 18.

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