US sports broadcaster ESPN has announced its summer X Games event will not return to Austin, Texas, next year and has opened a bidding process for US cities interested in hosting the action sports event for consecutive years in 2017 and 2018.
The X Games have taken place at Austin’s Circuit of the America’s (COTA) motorsport facility each year since 2014 and this summer’s event will run in the city from June 2-5. Austin had been due to stage the event again in 2017, but ESPN has elected to end its agreement with the city one year earlier than planned and seek a new host.
The Austin American-Statesman newspaper said ESPN made the decision not to remain in Austin due to concern over possible recalculations of the Texas Major Events Trust Fund that has been used by the COTA to help underwrite the cost of the annual Formula One race on the site. The fund’s $25m (€22.7m) outlay to COTA has been reduced to $19.5m. The X Games received $1.1m in state incentives for the 2014 X Games, according to city documents.
ESPN said it is “actively engaged” with cities interested in hosting the Games and is inviting other interested parties to enter the bidding process. The successful bid will take the hosting rights to successive Games in 2017 and 2018.
Tim Reed, vice-president of the X Games, said: “We’ve been honoured to call Austin home of the X Games since 2014 and are proud to have run world-class competitions for athletes, hosted amazing musicians for our fans and sponsors together with the Circuit of The Americas.
“We thank COTA, the City of Austin and State of Texas for their support, and look forward to an amazing final X Games Austin event this June. Looking to the future, we’re enthusiastic to identify the next X Games host city and continuing to improve and bring the franchise to new locations and fans.”
The summer X Games has taken place in a total of nine different cities around the world in its 20-year history, including various other locations in the US such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2001, and Los Angeles, California, more recently in 2013, prior to relocating to Austin in Texas.