Circuit Of The Americas Boosts Marketing Efforts With New Hires

By Terry Lefton | Sports Business Journal
The Circuit of the Americas track and development in Austin, Texas, has overhauled its sponsorships model after bringing on a new COO and CRO and hiring agencies IdeaQuest and Innovative Partnerships Group to change its model.

Accordingly, the track and surrounding mixed-use development — which hosts the country’s only Formula 1 race — have doubled sponsorship revenue over the past few months.

It has completed new sponsorships with several brands: Lexus, in the luxury auto category in a deal that includes car displays on site; Germania Insurance, a Texas-based company that inked the
second biggest sponsorship deal ever at COTA and will support the amphitheater and musical programming; and AutoNation, which is titling the IndyCar race at COTA to be held next April.
Health care concern Ascension Seton has expanded its relationship to include a kit deal for Austin’s USL soccer team, which plays at COTA. Caterpillar Entertainment Services also came on
via a seven-figure deal as “official power partner.”

Tim Prukop, COTA’s chief revenue officer, said the deals add up to more than $10 million in incremental revenue, which he said doubled existing sponsorship revenue.

“Our F1 race (the Nov. 3 U.S. Grand Prix) is coming up, along with our other motorsports events, but what we are selling now is an all-day/all-year experience across our facility,” said Prukop, who
was hired in June, about nine months after former PGA Tour Executive Director Rick Abbott was hired as COTA’s EVP.

Top deals are in the seven figures and include title sponsorship to something at COTA — as well as out-of-home, social and digital media IP rights, and the opportunity to hold corporate events at the

Sponsorships are also said to be pending in the tech, banking, coffee retailer, quick service restaurant, soft drinks and spirits categories. Many of the previous deals were local or regional and are now more national and comprehensive. Meanwhile, the COTA development — which already includes the track and a 14,000-seat amphitheater that hosts 30-35 concerts annually — is adding a $300 million Phase 2 expansion that will include a luxury hotel, a convention center, a waterpark, more youth fields and training facilities and additional retail and commercial space. Phase 2 is expected to be completed within three to four years. 

IPG and IdeaQuest worked on opposite sides of the table at the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village mixed-use development, being built adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The two agencies formed a joint venture to serve COTA.

“What we’re trying to build here is the Disneyland of motorsports,” said Innovative Partnerships CEO Jeff Marks.

COTA’s initial investors were former San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs, along with current CEO Bobby Epstein. The development has had numerous starts and stops to the project since ground was broken in 2010. Sales are now promising enough that naming rights for the entire complex are expected to eventually be on the market.

COTA attracts around 1.2 million visitors a year. Prukop said projections have that figure doubling
after the next phase of development is completed.

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