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COTA Is Buying Back Early-Bird F1 Tickets So It Can Sell Them for More Money

This year’s U.S. Grand Prix could have the biggest musical guests since Taylor Swift in 2016, and the host track wants to cash in.

byNico DeMattia|
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If you were one of the early-bird buyers who snagged $299 three-day passes for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend, Circuit of the Americas wants your tickets back. They’re buying ‘em for $350, so you can get a full return on your money and then some. Just know the folks at America's only dedicated F1 circuit intend to do so because once the weekend’s musical acts are announced, they can sell those tickets for a lot more than that.

Before the U.S. Grand Prix, there's always a concert of some sort at COTA. The first run of tickets was priced and sold before the musical lineup was announced, and COTA boss Bobbie Epstein told Planet F1, “We know when we announce our performers for this year’s Grand Prix weekend, that those tickets are going to be worth well more than they paid.” As such, buybacks will be available until May 6, one week after the lineup is announced.

The Drive reached out to COTA for confirmation of the buyback program. A spokesperson responded, “Yes – the early bird ticket price was a limited time offer for $299. We expect the value of the ticket to increase after the music headliners announcement on April 29.”

“We hope all customers will want to hang on to their tickets and join us for the 2024 USGP, however, we were excited to announce this offer as a strong statement of our confidence in the entertainment programming this year,” the COTA spokesperson continued. “As an added reminder – the headlining concerts both Friday and Saturday nights of race weekend are accessible to GA ticket holders so these fans are getting an incredible value of on & off track excitement included with their ticket.”

The only way this benefits current early-bird ticket holders is if they see the musical lineup and find the artists to be so heinous they don't even want to see the weekend's racing anymore, so they sell their tickets back and make $50. Otherwise, why would anyone want to give up their tickets for a $50 profit when they can just hang onto them and go to the U.S. Grand Prix at the lowest possible cost, especially since the tickets are going to be far more expensive once the musical lineup is announced?

Maybe some ticket holders' plans have changed and now they can't attend the race, so they might want to off-load the tickets for a profit. But they could also just sell those tickets on the private market for potentially quite a bit more than what COTA is offering, especially during the week following the musical lineup announcement. Even Epstein realizes this. “I think they’d be able to do that, but they’d have to usually go through a reseller and they charge a commission,” he said.

Epstein admits that he doesn't think many customers will go for it. “We’ll make it easy, but I don’t think many people will take us up on it. But I think it makes a strong statement for us.”

Commenters are slaying COTA on its Instagram post about this, crying out about how greedy and absurd it is. And while Epstein didn't provide any details of the musical lineup, he did sort of give away the game by saying it's the biggest event since Taylor Swift performed in 2016. So the thinking heads at COTA realized the big musical stars would let them sell tickets for far more than the $299 early-bird price and want to profit even more from customers they already have.

“Taylor Swift was one of the first we did that with and we’ve had a lot of superstars since—whether it’s Bruno Mars or Pink, Billy Joel, or a lot of big names," Epstein said. "But I think this is going to be perhaps the biggest since the Taylor Swift announcement."

Unless current ticket holders desperately need to recoup their initial money, there isn’t much incentive to sell their tickets back. This just seems like an admittedly weak, on-second-thought attempt to make more money.

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