For those who argue that F1 races do not have major economic impact on the cities involved, it is worth noting that the Austin American-Statesman, the major local newspaper in the city of Austin, Texas, is reporting that the city’s hotels have become so greedy that some of the F1 tour operators have turned to other cities because the prices are simply too high. Cities such as San Marcos and even San Antonio are being used because of the exploitation going on in Austin. The tour operators say that the Austin hotels need to realise that they cannot charge more money than Monte Carlo, because the fans will go to Monte Carlo instead.
The average daily rate in Austin at Grand Prix time last year (according to the official figures) was $393.69, while San Antonio hotels were averaging $184.20. San Marcos is only 30 miles from the track and San Antonio only 50 miles, with a motorway all the way. San Antonio hotel revenues were up 40 percent as a result of the race last year, with about $5 million being made in the city as a result, without taking into account hikes in food and beverages. This year the prices in Austin are expected to be even higher because of the direct clash between F1 and a big college football game on the Saturday night. The latter will have an audience of around 100,000, many travelling in from Oklahoma. Some will no doubt take advantage of the trip to take a look at F1, but other F1 fans will be deterred from visiting because of the gouging going on.
The hotels argue that it is a question of supply and demand and it is not the first time that hotels in cities with F1 races have exploited Grand Prix crowds, but the down side of making a quick buck is that the fans tend to avoid going back each year, which they would probably do if the rooms were being offered at more sensible rates. Some hotels in Singapore found that they were left with no-one wanting their rooms at the advertised price in the second year of that race and they had to discount frantically in the days before the races, in order to fill them.