Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Formula One racing could be headed for the streets of New Jersey within the next two years. The anticipated cost to taxpayers? Nothing.
Since July 2010, state lawmakers in Texas have been fending off countless legal and political challenges mounted against its effort to bring Formula One to Austin, the state’s capital. On June 29, the Austin City Council officially approved the initiative, signifying an end to the measure’s major hurdles. The cost to Texas taxpayers? $250 million.
The difference? The New Jersey race would run on existing streets in the cities of Weehawken and West New York, underneath the New York City skyline. The Texas race is set to take place in a massive 3.4-mile, $242 million track currently being constructed just southeast of Austin.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, Formula One is the world’s richest and most popular motorsport series. It has a tremendously turbulent history in this country, highlighted by an embarrassing driver boycott of the 2005 US Grand Prix. In 2007, the United States hosted its last Formula One race, with the sport failing to gain traction stateside in recent years.
The mayors of the two New Jersey cities confirmed on Tuesday that they were in preliminary talks with a group of high-profile investors regarding plans to bring Formula One to the Garden State as early as 2013.
“In these uncertain economic times when every direct and indirect revenue source is vital, our own Formula One race could be a very positive boost to our citizens,” Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and West New York Mayor Felix Roque said in a joint statement. “This said, we need to ensure that the financial benefits from the privilege of having these races in our towns are equitably shared and that no tax dollars are used.”
Texas, which recently pushed through a draconian budget bill that slashed funding for public schools by $4 billion, shorted Medicaid $4.8 billion in projected expenses, and cut funding for family planning programs by 66 percent, took a different route to give Formula One a new home: it pledged $25 million a year of state funds to the racing sport, from 2012 through 2022. This means that if all goes accordingly, the state will spend $250 million in tax revenue on the sport over the next ten years.