An Austin-based events group is lobbying to bring Formula E racing to Austin. Representatives from Connect Partnership Group met with a few representatives of SRCC to talk about the details of how this could look on April 11. The likeliest race route would take place on the South 1st Street bridge, from City Hall down to the Long Center, and would include using Auditorium Shores. The SRCC Executive Committee compiled a list of questions, below are their responses. Please contact Gretchen Otto (president at srccatx.org) with any follow-up questions/concerns. This will also be discussed at the SRCC general meeting on May 1.
BACKGROUND ON FORMULA E:
“We are not just a car race! We are a technological and sustainable development test bed to address urban mobility and environmental issues. We are pioneering the transition towards smart cities and low carbon economies, societies, and transportation by bringing electric vehicles and smart technologies to the forefront of people’s minds: exciting and inspiring them about the huge environmental, social and economic benefits these can have to improve their and their children’s lives.”
–Who are Connect Partnership’s clients/partners? What is their (CPG) role?
• Connect Partnership Group is an Austin-based sports marketing agency that specializes in consulting in the sports and entertainment industry. Consulting activities include but are not limited to: representing sponsorship and media rights, event production and monetization, brand marketing consulting.
• Connect Partnership Group has partnered with Rush Sport & Entertainment, a UK-based sports marketing agency, to bring a Formula E race to Austin.
• Together both companies would be the promoter of the race (i.e as COTA is the promoter of the F1 race in Austin).
• Current and past clients of both agencies include but are not limited to: Fiesta Bowl, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, Topgolf, Circuit of The Americas, Cirque du Soleil, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Formula E, Force India F1 team, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team, Red Bull Racing F1 Team, Sauber F1 Team, Williams F1 Team, Virgin Racing (F1 Team and now Formula E team), Mahindra Formula E Team, IBM, NASCAR Raceday Hotels, Austin American Statesman, Ryan Sanders Baseball, H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, AT&T Performing Arts Center, IBM, Voestalpine, IHG, Avis, Starwood, Mercedes-Benz, Julius Baer, CNBC, and many more.
–Who is running the Formula E group?
• Formula E is regulated by the FIA; the governing body of motor sport and promotes safe, sustainable and accessible mobility for all road users across the world. The concept of the first all-electric World Championship was born from the European Commission’s desire to promote electric cars and the FIA’s policy to develop clean mobility.
• Formula E’s chief executive is Alejandro Agag who overseas operations from their headquarters in London. Agag is an economics and business studies graduate from the Colegio Universitario de Estudios Financieros in Madrid, and is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Italian. He first made his name in politics and in 1999, aged just 28, he was elected as a member of the European Parliament. He entered the economic and monetary affairs commission and focused on anti-trust policy.
• In 2015 two companies controlled by US media mogul John Malone; Liberty Global plc, and Discovery Communications Inc. each became major shareholders in Formula E.
–What other cities have allowed the race in their urban areas? Can they give us contact information of the stakeholders from those events?
• Paris, Berlin, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Long Beach, Buenos Aires, Brooklyn (2017), Montreal (2017), Mexico City (only track race on the calendar) amongst others.
• There are two U.S. race slots for Series 4/5- one has been granted to Brooklyn, and there are six U.S. cities competing for the second slot.
• Other promoters would be happy to provide feedback.
–How does ADP feel about the event? Who did they talk with/will talk with at APD?
• We have not met with APD yet. That meeting will take place soon.
–How would the financial agreements work between Formula E, city, and state?
• Our company is working to add a Formula E race to the list of events that qualify for reimbursement from the state’s Major Event Reimbursement Program (MERP) determined by the economic impact of the event, like the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Formula 1, etc.
• If our event is granted MERP status, we may receive a reimbursement to help pay costs related to the Formula E event provided sufficient tax receipts are deposited in the trust fund. A majority of the reimbursement is provided from the state, and a smaller portion is provided from the city. We have committed to various city council members that the city’s portion of the reimbursement would be reimbursed back to the city.
–What the impact would be on residents? (street closures, noise, parking, safety, etc.) How can impacts be mitigated?
• Formula E circuits are relatively short: only 1.5 to 2.5miles in total length. Therefore road closures and access restrictions are minimal and the circuit may be installed and dismantled quickly.
• Formula E has tremendous experience working within major global city centers to minimize the disruption to local residents, to ensure access for emergency vehicles, etc.
• Because the cars are electric, there is minimal noise pollution compared to combustion engine vehicles: noise levels during the event may even be reduced overall vs. normal levels.
• The FIA’s oversight ensures the highest level of public safety for such an event.
• We are meeting with various stakeholders within the city now to discuss these issues and put in place measures to mitigate any impact.
• It is a Formula E policy that spectators and race fans should be strongly encouraged to take public transport to the circuit with minimal / no on-site parking provision.
• Local residents may benefit from privileged access to the event.
• We are also working on developing a benefits package that will include various tangible and direct benefits for residents: donated electric charging stations, support of the Austin Parks Foundation, etc.
–What is the cost to Travis County taxpayers for services provided at no charge to the promoters (street changes, traffic re-routing, police, fire, EMS, etc.)
• These details are still being determined.
Similarly: What is the cost/benefit? How much will it cost the city (security, etc) vs how much will Formula E pay the COA for permits and reimbursing any expenses?
• These details are still being determined.
–What is the rationale for not using the Circuit of the Americas track for which the taxpayers not only of Travis County but Texas State are paying tens of millions of dollars for each year.
• Formula E’s mission is to further the development and adoption of technology solutions that improve mobility and also aim to create “smarter cities”, all showcased in areas that can benefit most from these developments – congested city centers. Thus, the series is committed to continuing to race in city-centers only.
• Formula E only races at one track during the series -Mexico City- and that track is clearly located within the urban environment.
–Some residents were in Long Beach CA when the race was occurring last year and found it to be very noisy despite the cars being electric. There were also several days of events with outdoor concerts/street festivals and they were above 80 db. Will there be accompanying events such as amplified music performances for the race in Austin?
• Yes there will be accompanying events. Those events are still being determined.
–Is the electricity they consume coal-produced or solar?
• Formula E is committed to powering the cars with a virtually zero emission and 100% renewable fuel, from their revolutionary Formula E Glycerine Generators. They use a form of sea algae to create energy. You can drink it.
–Will there be some sort of road damage remediation plan to repair the road surfaces post-race? Especially removal of tire marks.
• Yes this plan is in development
–Please provide details on how temporary barricades will protect race watchers from crashes.
• The circuit in Austin will be subject to inspection and final approval by the FIA. This requires tight controls as to the type and specification of the temporary barriers and fencing used around the circuit, the design of the track including run off areas and emergency vehicle access, and the location and proximity of spectator areas.
• The FIA is world renowned for setting the highest standards of safety in motorsports (and consumer automobile safety). The FIA operates a constant research and development program to improve safety.
–Please respond to this article, specifically: “But last week, word filtered through that city officials in Berlin had not shared the enthusiasm for the race. A vote from the city senate ruled against hosting Formula E on Karl-Marx-Allee again in 2017, citing pressures placed on local residents by the event and traffic issues as the main concerns.” (and similar comments from other cities.)
• “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”…
• The fact is that local politics has played a much bigger part than residents’ complaints or concerns.
• Hong Kong held a very successful two-day event on streets around Central right in the heart of the city.
• Paris too, held an event on streets around Les Invalides, with minimal disruption or residents’ complaint.
• These course and those in Berlin and (proposed) in Brussels were equivalent to closing Congress Avenue and Lavaca St in Austin to race in front of the Capitol. We have worked hard to find a venue that is accessible for fans and urban residents and avoids Downtown road closures.
–If the race course is on S. 1st, how long would you anticipate Auditorium Shores being closed, including all preparations beforehand and cleanup after?
• This is still being determined.
–Will helicopters be used to provide aerial shots of the race? Is there another alternative?
• Drones are increasingly used by the TV production company.
FORMULA E STATS:
Carbon footprint cut in half: the footprint from Formula E’s second season was calculated at 12,000 tCO2-eq, a significant decrease on the season one footprint which was 25,000 tCO2-eq.
(12,000 tCO2-eq = the electricity consumption of 7,900 UK households; or 1600 trips around the Earth by car; or 60 transatlantic flights from Paris to New York with 320 passengers aboard)
The most impacting areas were freight, business travel and food and drinks in the eVillage, crew catering and hospitality areas.
At the 2016 Visa London ePrix, 80% of the energy needs were powered by renewable energy. Formula E is committed to RE100 and aim to have whole events become one hundred per cent renewable by 2020…. By season five they will be the first championship to achieve carbon neutrality (Formula E is in season three right now)
A report conducted by Ernst & Young projected the potential positive global impacts of Formula E over the next 25 years (2015–2040): to help sell an additional 77 million electric vehicles worldwide, save four billion barrels of oil and help make savings of 25 billion euros on healthcare.
65 per cent of Formula E7y’s power needs are from vegetable oil generators and for the race weekend the championship hosted London’s first ever solar farm.
So far Formula E has increased the battery’s efficiency by 25 per cent, and by season five the intention will be to have doubled that figure.
– So far Formula E has raised $1.2 million alongside their Foundation Partner’s during Gala Dinners, contributing to a joint project in Guatemala providing safe water access to 35,000 people.
– For every race, Formula E and Chargemaster have offered 10 electric vehicle charging infrastructure to each host city.
At the Business Green Leaders Awards we were honoured with Sustainability Team of the Year and Company of the Year.
The concept of sustainability for Formula E is to reduce our footprint as much as possible and have a positive impact on both people and the planet:
– Our tyres are specially designed, suitable for all weather conditions, last the entire race, and are all recycled at the end of the day!
– Formula E encourage fans to use public transport, that’s why we don’t allocate parking spaces.
– Our race calendar and logistics is designed to optimise our freight and drastically decrease environmental impact.
Formula E have decided to implement The International Standard of Sustainability in Events, the ISO 20121, at the 2016 VISA London ePrix and received first party certification – we strive to receive third party certification for the entire championship by season four.
Project Ice was the start of a scientifically backed expedition into research, studies and raising awareness on the issues of global warming, the melting ice caps and rising sea levels