After more than eight months of preparations, proposals and courting, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s bid to host ESPN’s Summer X Games fell short after the sports cable network announced Austin, Texas, as the winner of the event for the next four years.
Detroit and Chicago were the other two cities in the running for the three-day event, which will be held for the next four years in Austin beginning in May 2014.
The speedway’s bid, labeled X Games Charlotte, boasted turn-key infrastructure and experience hosting big events like the Coca-Cola 600, the All-Star Race and the Bank of America 500.
That impressed ESPN executives who visited the site in early June, with one senior executive saying the experience and close facilities were “very, very valuable.”
“After several months of hard work by our staff and hearing from thousands of extreme sports fans who wanted the X Games here in the Charlotte region, we’re naturally disappointed that we weren’t selected as next year’s host site,” Charlotte Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith said in a statement. “We put our best foot forward with a very competitive bid and received high praise from ESPN throughout the process. We want to sincerely thank the fans and everyone who has supported this effort.”
But Austin also has impressive facilities. The Texas capital has the nine-month-old Circuit of the Americas, a 1,600-acre sports and entertainment complex that hosts Formula One racing.
Along with their state-of-the-art track, Austin used the tagline “Keep Austin Weird” in its pitch to ESPN. The city is known for its vibrant culture and strong music scene, both of which were important to ESPN decision-makers.
“I think that Charlotte did a tremendous job in showing us quite a bit of vision for the event,” Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of ESPN programming and X Games, said in a teleconference Wednesday. “They clearly have their fingers on the pulse of massive, live events in a single footprint.
“It was less about what Charlotte lacked and a little more about the unique combination of the city of Austin and the Circuit of the Americas. The fit was a terrific fit. We knew that after we left here on our site survey.”
The Summer X Games have been held since 1995 primarily in southern California. When ESPN could not come to terms on a new contract with Los Angeles following this summer’s event, the network began searching for a new host city.
From 29 hopefuls, the list was narrowed to nine in January. In April, Charlotte was named one of four finalists.
The X Games will be held in Los Angeles in early August, bringing to a close its first year of global expansion. The event has held competitions in Brazil, Spain and Germany since April.
Guglielmino said the hope is for the event to find a permanent domestic home in the near future.
According to a 2010 study, the X Games brought a $50 million economic impact to Los Angeles when the summer event was held there. Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said he and other community leaders were expecting an impact between $40-$50 million.
Padgett said frankly he was surprised when he learned the speedway’s bid had fallen short.
“I had the plesaure of meeting with the committee from ESPN and talking to some of the producers that have worked on this in the past and they were very impressed with the facilities at the speedway,” Padgett said. “The fact that you’ve got all the seating there and you got the drag strip and dirt track and the main speedway, it seemed to me that it would be the ideal location for the X Games.
“To look at the bright side, Austin is a beautiful town. I’ve been there, I respect what they have to offer, and for Austin to be picked and for us to be considered, I believe that’s a honor for us.”
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less