For the next three days, the streets of downtown Austin will be full of flips – Ninja flips, inward flips and varial kickflips – as dozens of professional skateboarders, BMXers and other athletes descend upon Central Texas for the first ever X Games Austin.
Housed in the Austin360 Amphitheater with a large “X” marking the spot, the X Games arena features an ESPN Clubhouse and a video gaming venue along with a full schedule of skateboard and BMX competitions. Musicians including Kanye West and The Flaming Lips will also be in town with the athletes, along with a roster of local acts. (KUT's sister station KUTX is a media sponsor of the X Games, and is hosting its own stage of Austin performers at the fest.)
Before the weekend’s competition, the City of Austin fought it’s own contest – the contest to host the X Games. In July, Austin beat out Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte, N.C., for the right to host the games for the next three years. The state's Major Events Trust Fund kicked in more than a million dollars in economic incentives, and the City of Austin agreed to waive up to $150,000 in fees.
The X Games and its estimated daily 25,000 spectators are expected to drop millions of dollars in Austin. A study of the X Games in Los Angeles said the competition generated $50 million for the host city. Economic research firm Micronomics said almost half of that came in the form of media coverage of the city, since the event was televised in more than 175 countries, with glimpses of the host city in every shot.
While the X Games means international exposure for Austin, it also means traffic disruptions for residents. Until noon on Friday, road closures will affect Congress Avenue from 9th Street to 11th Street, 10th Street from Colorado Street to Brazos Street and 11th Street from Lavaca Street to San Jacinto Boulevard. Read more here.
The X Games, which runs through Sunday, kicks off today with a halfpipe demonstration from Tony Hawk and other skateboarders at 10th Street and Congress Avenue – in front of the Texas State Capitol.