Date change, weather concerns among reasons X Games leaving Austin

Akshay Mirchandani

After three years at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, the X Games are looking toward the future. The X Games, an ESPN sponsored event, is accepting bids for a new host city after they mutually agreed with the Circuit of Americas to end their contract a year early. 

Last year, the Texas Major Events Trust Fund decreased the state’s funds to the Circuit of the Americas. The Austin American-Statesman reported in March that ESPN pulled out partly because of those reductions. 

ESPN, however, denied that report. Moving forward, ESPN wants to move the X Games to later in the summer, rather than the traditional early-June window when the X Games has to compete with the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Finals for viewership.

“With all of those, the calendar is really busy,” X Games Vice President Tim Reed said. “For us, we want to put ourselves in a position to be in a time of the summer that’s not as challenged with other major sporting events.”

Reed said they want to move the games to the later part of July, which presents one of the biggest reasons for the X Games’ departure — the Texas heat. 

An X Games in late July means an outdoor event where fans and athletes have to deal with potential triple-digit temperatures. Even in these final X Games, the courses and event sites have been moved closer together to help fans avoid walking long distances in the heat. 

“If we were in July here … you’re not doing that,” Reed said. 

The Statesman reported in March that the X Games are in conversations with cities like Charlotte, Minneapolis, Seattle, Kansas City and Fort Lauderdale as potential new sites. The city of Austin might miss some of the revenue the games brought in, but the athletes will also miss Austin.

“It reminds me a little bit of Brazil,” professional skateboarder and Brazil native Bob Burnquist said. “Some of the events there and the crowd showing up, it’s just got that excitement for sports.”