H&LA’s recent research for a project in Austin, Texas revealed some exciting new hospitality-related developments happening in the area. These developments will have a major impact on tourism, employment, and the general economy in the Austin area in 2020 and beyond.
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport saw its busiest year ever in 2018, with more than 7.7 million passenger enplanements. This marked an increase of more than 900,000 over 2017 and nearly 2.5 million since 2014. To help accommodate the surge in passengers, the airport opened nine new gates in February 2019 as part of a $350 million terminal expansion designed to handle the continued passenger volume growth anticipated over the next two decades.
- Wisconsin-based Kalahari Resorts is planning to open a new $350 million indoor waterpark resort near the Dell Diamond ballpark in Round Rock. This large-scale project, scheduled to open in 2020, will include a 223,000-square-foot waterpark, a convention center, multiple restaurants, and more than 900 guestrooms.
- A $500 million mixed-use development is taking shape along Waller Creek in downtown Austin. This project, which has been compared to the San Antonio Riverwalk, is set to include residential buildings, restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. The new $15 million Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park, one of the first major elements, opened in 2019.
- The inaugural IndyCar Classic was held at the Circuit of the Americas in March 2019, bringing the top level of open-wheel racing based in the United States to Austin for the first time ever. This major event adds to the growing list of racing and entertainment events held at the track to date. Circuit of the Americas held its eighth Formula One U.S. Grand Prix in 2019 and is contracted to continue hosting the event through 2021. Track officials have stated that they are in continued talks with the Formula One Group and expect to reach an agreement to keep the Grand Prix in Austin for the foreseeable future.
- In spring 2019, a new soccer-specific stadium opened adjacent to the Circuit of the Americas. The 5,036-seat Bold Stadium is now the home field of the Austin Bold FC, a recently formed professional soccer team that is part of the USL Championship League. The USL Championship season runs from March to October each year.
- Austin FC, a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team, will begin playing its home matches in 2021 at a new stadium that is now under construction in north central Austin. The $240 million stadium will seat 20,500 spectators. Austin FC will be the first top-division major professional sports team in the city’s history.
- The NLand Surf Park in southeast Austin closed permanently in November 2018. First opened in October 2016, this large man-made surfing attraction offered surfing lessons, open surfing, a surf shop, and a restaurant and craft brewery. The property has since been purchased by the World Surf League, the governing body for professional surfers. While the group has expressed interest in reopening the surf park, no official timeline for this project has been announced.
- In December 2019, Apple Inc. announced plans to build a $1 billion office campus in north Austin, near its existing corporate hub. Construction on this massive project is expected to begin within the next three years, and, once completed, the new Apple campus will add about 5,000 new jobs to the company’s current workforce in the area.