The lie: Formula 1 will attract 300,000 people to Austin.
The reality:120,000 people spending over a hundred dollars for a sporting event is impressive. The fact that many of those 120,000 will be attending the event over 3 days, requiring a hotel stay, even more so.
Facts: The Austin Formula 1 is the only formula 1 race in the USA. The nearest is in Montreal (held in June). Formula one is to Europe what Indy racing is to America: a fairly niche product, aimed at men that attracts lucrative sponsors.
Austin is a fairly small city (area wide population: 1.7 million). Obviously, just like in Montreal (pop 3 million), people from out of town will show up. People from San Antonio and Houston could do it as a day trip, but could be convinced to spend the night because of the practice sessions and qualifying on the Friday and Saturday. In Austin, the tickets are sold as a 3 day package (you can't buy them for individual days like you can for some tickets in Montreal).
Many people will also fly in from Latin and North America, free of jet-lag Flying is expensive, but with a Saturday night stay, flights can be relatively affordable when booked far in advance.
Austin has developed a couple of music festivals that attract tens of thousands of people. Being near San Antonio and Houston, that is understandable. Even without music, it is the capital of Texas and a fairly nice place to visit.
The most successful festival, South by Southwest, has a film and software element, and attracts up to 30,000 people over 9 days (ie, there are never 30,000 people in town at once).
The Formula 1 race has 120,000 tickets. The state of Texas somehow concluded that 300,000 people from out of town would show up in Austin! Never mind that race fans from Houston and San Antonio could show up at the track without setting foot in the city (the track is located south-east of town, outside city limits), or that some could go directly from the airport on race day (the track is a few miles away from it), even if all 120,000 F1 ticket holders came from out of town and spent the weekend, that would still not get anywhere near the 300,000 figure.
Some say the 300,000 number came about because the event is 3 days. So 100,000 X 3 is 300,000. But clearly, both the state and the city have been spreading falsehoods about the number of people that the F1 would attract.
Austin was able to land an F1 race because of the promise of 25 million dollars a year from the State of Texas. $25 million is $208 per attendee. Somehow, the state plans on extracting that amount of sales tax out of the event (there is no income tax in Texas). It's not completely out of the realm of possibilities. The 400 million dollar track had to be built, workers will have spent much of their salaries in Texas. Visitors to F1 are often well healed. So even if the numbers of people attending aren't that high, the local spending could be.
The city annexed the track (will take effect by next year's race). In theory, that is a windfall: The City of Austin has a sales tax. In practice, the city could be on the hook for things like water, sewers, road maintenance, public transportation, policing and fire prevention. So regardless of the sales tax and property tax base, there are no guarantees the city will break even.
By exaggerating the economic impact, local officials hoped to help nudge the event out of the expense column into the revenue column. They don't have to convince all of the people, just some.
Lies can be found here:
Lies repeated in the Texas media