U.S. Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in '12 and has seen attendance rise about 20% since '15GETTY IMAGES
The U.S. Grand Prix this Sunday is the last race of a contract that F1 signed with the Circuit of the Americas in '12, but due to its popularity, COTA Chair Bobby Epstein is "confident that a new deal will be signed," according to Ian Parkes of the N.Y. TIMES. Epstein said, "Anything that would stop the momentum of that would be potentially irreversibly detrimental. Given that we start with that as a point of agreement, I'm fairly optimistic this will continue for a long time." The U.S. Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar nine years ago, after a five-year hiatus from the '07 event in Indianapolis. The Grand Prix has become popular, with attendance "rising about 20 percent" since '15. For this Sunday's race "more than 350,000 people are expected over the weekend." Epstein said, "We could have probably sold another 100,000 above what we sold this year." Parkes notes there is a "new bridge that connects the fans to the infield, creating what the track calls Rodeo Driveway, an area with high-end shops and restaurants, as well as amusement rides." Epstein: "The improvements have allowed us to increase the number of tickets we have been able to sell, and in turn, greatly increase our budget for entertainment at the event" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/21).