After a high-traffic weekend at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, passengers reported crazy long lines and traffic jams disrupting their travel plans.
According to an ABIA spokesperson, 30,991 passengers passed through TSA on Sunday, marking the ninth busiest day in the airport’s history, and 28,651 are projected for today. Nearly 9,000 of Sunday's passengers came in before 8 a.m.
With NASCAR, Texas Relays and Dell Match Play in town over the weekend, a high volume of passengers was to be expected. However, the lines were much more chaotic for those returning rental cars Monday morning.
Ummmmm.....have never seen anything like this. The rental car place at the Austin airport is closed so everyone is just leaving their cars in the through lanes of the garage. It’s getting all backed up and people can’t get up the ramp. I dunno what to do! pic.twitter.com/mPiFibJXkC
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck2) March 28, 2022
The spokesperson said that the jam started when a rental car stalled out at the drop-off curb and employees instructed them to leave it with the keys inside. Other passengers then followed suit, leaving a long line of empty cars and no way out.
Jeff Gluck documented his experience on Twitter while dropping off his rental car this morning, saying he couldn’t find any employees and waited for 10 minutes before ditching his car.
“I ended up just ditching mine in the road with everyone else. Keys still in it!” Gluck said on Twitter. “Hope they don’t charge us.”
One traveler, Joey Dillon, said he had to abandon both of his rental cars on the road lest he lose his flight to Columbus, Ohio.
My luck that my first time leaving the Austin airport was an apocalypse between Monday morning and both a NASCAR race and a PGA event this weekend.
We had to leave our rentals on the side of the road and security was easily at LEAST 2 hours hours deep. Thank you, pre-check 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/7RZuNfCqxE
— Joey Dillon (@joeydillon) March 28, 2022
Airport staff have confirmed the jam is cleared up this afternoon, after the airport called the rental car company to request extra staff. Operations have resumed as normal.
“In response to the strong demand for air travel, AUS continues to expedite terminal improvements through the Airport Expansion and Development Program and through working alongside our partners, like the TSA, to fill staff vacancies,” ABIA said in a statement. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of our passengers and continue to ask them to plan ahead, arrive early and show kindness to airport and airline staff who are working hard to get them safely to their destination.”
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Just after NASCAR’s EchoPark Grand Prix wrapped up on Sunday night, Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein announced yet another draw to Austin's track: a new amusement park.
Epstein confirmed to Austonia the park would be "family-friendly," with more than 30 rides, two “mega-coasters,” and will “rival any other” amusement park in the country. Epstein expects the kids section of the park to open this summer and the rest in 2023, with additional rides coming in 2024.
"The amusement park is -and always has been- part of our overall goal: to be a world-class destination for sports and entertainment," Epstein said. "We want to be 'the playground for today, making memories forever.'”
COTA has over 400 events planned at the venue this year, including 40 concerts. Epstein said with 1,500 acres to work with, they plan to keep adding events.
The venue has already provided a kiddie park with a Ferris wheel, carousel, zip-lining and go-kart track.
Over the past 10 years it has been in Austin, the COTA track has brought $5 billion to the local economy.
Not to mention foot traffic—October’s Formula 1 race drew more than 300,000 people for the weekend and has already sold out this year. Last month, Epstein secured a five-year contract with its main event, F1, and said he expects MotoGP to return for at least five more years. MotoGP, which attracts crowds of 70,000 or more, will return in April this year.
With its 10-year anniversary coming up this year, Epstein said to be on the lookout for announcements regarding the milestone celebration as it is going to be “legendary.” The next time you're driving along Toll 130, you should be able to catch a glimpse of the new Ferris wheel.
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It was a busy weekend for sports fans in Austin. Both NASCAR and the PGA came to town while the University of Texas women’s basketball team took on Stanford in the Elite Eight.
Here's a recap of the weekend in sports.
Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club
Hook 'em 🤘 pic.twitter.com/uPWc6LNWjh— WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (@DellMatchPlay) March 27, 2022
The fifth and final day of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament concluded with native Texan and UT alum Scottie Scheffler coming away as the champion over Kevin Kisner.
The top 64 golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking competed at the annual match-style tournament until the final round on Sunday at Austin Country Club.
In the final match, Scheffler took a 1-up lead in the second hole and never looked back. He then increased his lead to three on the fourth hole with a 20-foot shot. Scheffler and Kisner tied seven holes in a row from holes 7-13. In the 14th hole, Scheffler drained a 16-foot birdie to go up four.
Scheffler maintained his lead for the remainder of the match to win his third TOUR win in five starts. With the victory, Scheffler moves to No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
NASCAR at COTA
For its second year, NASCAR returned to the Circuit of the Americas for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, in which Ross Chastain picked up his first career Cup win Sunday.
Starting at 16th place, Chastain battled with AJ Allmendinger, who won the Xfinity Series race at COTA on Saturday, through the final lap, along with others Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric giving him a challenge.
Chastain and Allmendinger were in first and second place to start round 3, the final laps. In turn 15 of 20, Allmendinger bumped Chastain and took the lead as Chastain swung wide in the left-hand turn. Chastain returned the favor on turn 17 by bumping him back as another driver passed them both. He again bumped Allmendinger on the next lap, sending his foe's car into another driver causing Allmendinger to spin out.
Chastain went on to win the race while Allmendinger finished 33rd. He is now the sixth different driver to earn a NASCAR Cup Series victory in as many races this year.
UT Women's Basketball
Texas Women's Basketball March Madness run is over after Stanford beat the Longhorns in the Elite Eight round 59-50.
Defending champion Stanford, the No.1 seed, went head to head Sunday with the No. 2 seed, playing a tight game.
At the end of the first quarter, it looked like Texas might get a leg up until Stanford guard Haley Jones, an honoree on the Associated Press' All-American team, made a jumper as the clock was running out to tie the game at 14 points. Texas fell short the next quarter and the team picked up at least two fouls in the first half. At halftime, the score was 30-27 with Stanford leading.
It was a hard-fought battle to the end but the Longhorns weren't able to get on top of the team they beat early in the season. Texas came within 2 points in the final minutes but missed free throws kept them from a win before the game ended 59-50.
Texas closes out its season with a 29-7 record. The team thanked its fans for their support all season.
The Sanya Richards-Ross 4x400 CHAMPIONS🤘— Texas T&F/XC (@TexasTFXC) March 27, 2022
• Texas Relays & Texas Record
• No. 2 All-Time on the NCAA list
🤘 3:22.94 pic.twitter.com/W9JDTpN2wN
For the first time in two years, the Texas Relays, a track and field event that high school, college and other elite athletes compete in, returned to the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday, concluding on Saturday.
UT took home multiple first place wins, including:
- Women's 4x400 relay: Rhasidat Adeleke, Kennedy Simon, Stacey Ann Williams, Davicia Patterson
- Men's 4x200 meter relay: Jonathan Belaire, Caleb Hulbin, Brian Herron, Soloman Washington
- Men's 800 meter invitational: Jonathan Jones
Professional Pickleball Association Austin Open
At just 15 years old, Austinite Anna Leigh Waters brought home more titles at the PPA Austin Open at the Elevation Athletic Club (World of Tennis). She took home gold for women's singles in her 11th Pro Women's Singles title. And with her mom, Leigh Water, they won back-to-back PPA Tour titles in women’s doubles with a silver.
Pickleball, the sport that is a mix of tennis and badminton, has gained major traction in Austin as it is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. Last year, Major League Pickleball became the first major league sport to be founded in Austin.
Waters, who moved to Austin from Florida in 2017, has won at least one singles title each month over the past 8 months, ranking No. 1 in women's singles.
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