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Buy Formula 1 U.S. Grand prix tickets now: Nothing cheap about these seats

Buy Formula 1 U.S. Grand prix tickets now: Nothing cheap about these seats

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Rendering of the start and finish line. Courtesy of Circuit of the Americas
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Seating chart for Circuit of the Americas.
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Circuit of the Americas Courtesy of Circuit of the Americas
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PIT Building under construction. Courtesy of Circuit of the Americas
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Turn 1. Photo by Jessica Pages
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The view of the stand from turn 1. Photo by Jessica Pages
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Austin Photo Set: News_Kevin_formula 1_ticket sales_jan 2012_seating
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Austin Photo Set: News_Kevin_formula 1_ticket sales_jan 2012_pit building
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As yet another indication that the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix will happen next year, ticket license deposits went on sale today. Surprisingly, they are not priced in the stratosphere. In fact, sports fans who frequent professional events (or Texas Longhorn football games) might find them a downright bargain. At least so far.

Formula 1 is the playground of the global wealthy elite. Austin will be the beneficiary of high-spending visitors from around the world: People who travel because they love Formula 1 racing. One might expect ticket prices to reflect that.

On one level it's impossible to say exactly how much a single general admission or grandstand ticket will cost, because even the Circuit of the Americas doesn't know. The only guidance they give is that the event "will be priced comparable to other major league sporting event venues." That's a big range.

And when Circuit of the Americas (COTA) says they don't know the prices, they are not being coy. They just hired Legends Sales and Marketing to handle their seat licensing and ticket sales. If you own Dallas Cowboys season tickets, then you're familiar with Legends. The company is owned jointly by the Cowboys, the New York Yankees, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners (an equity firm). No, that owners list does not bring any thought of "cheap" tickets.

Still, COTA's personal seat licenses are being sold for as little as $1,000 per seat and up to $5,000. That's pennies compared to what Jerry Jones demands for a Cowboys personal seat license (PSL), which is basically paying for the privilege of buying season tickets.

The worst seats in Cowboys stadium — the nosebleed corners of the bowl — require a $2,000 PSL, while club seats start at $16,000 and rise to $50,000; that's per seat, before you pay for the actual tickets. In the new Santa Clara Stadium being built by the San Francisco 49ers, current season ticket holders are being asked to pay $30,000 for a single seat license for club level seats. 

Put in that context, a personal seat license allowing you to attend the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix, the MotoGP and the Aussie V-8 Supercars, along with a number of smaller events, looks like a bargain.

According to COTA's press release, "A personal seat license entitles its holder to purchase tickets for all racing events at Circuit of The Americas for the next 15 years. The license also gives its holder a priority position to purchase tickets for entertainment events held at Circuit of The Americas for the duration of the license."A $100 deposit puts you on the "Select seating wait list." On March 1st those on the wait list will be contacted to buy their PSL.

These "select seats" include the 9,000 seat grandstand as well as seats at Turn 1 (which besides sitting at the finish line might be the best seat in the house) and Turns 15 and 16. COTA released updated designs over the weekend showing where the tickets are (see the designs in our photo gallery). Grandstand tickets include in-seat food and drink service and priority parking. The entire track will hold 120,000 spectators. Expect general admission tickets to go on sale later this summer.

After an autumn full of in-fighting that threatened to kill the race and the racetrack, things seem to be moving forward at an almost frenzied pace. Concerns about the construction schedule remain with some die-hards absolutely sure the track cannot be finished on time. COTA's owners have been resolute in their promise to have the track ready for a Nov. 18 race day. Starting ticket sales makes the promise actually feel real and for race fans that's music for their ears.