Jeff Crawford

Workers on Congress Ave. put together a half pipe on Tuesday for the upcoming X-Games. 

Photo Credit: Jenna Von Hofe | Daily Texan Staff

Austin's first X Games will kick off Thursday night in front of the Texas State Capitol on Congress Avenue before shifting venues to Circuit of the Americas in South Austin on Friday.

Austin will host the four-day extreme sports competition — which includes skateboarding, BMX and motocross — each summer through 2017. ESPN, which owns the X Games, chose Austin to replace Los Angeles as the host of the summer games over other finalists Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The kickoff will consist of BMX and skateboarding events at a temporary vert ramp starting at 5 p.m. and will also feature former skateboarding professional Tony Hawk. 

Julie Loignon, Circuit of the Americas spokeswoman, said having the majority of the events at the circuit will allow attendees to experience the games in one location.

“[This gives] the ability to have more of a one-stop-shop kind of experience, where you can see all the competitions you want, you can be part of the music scene, and, if you have any downtime, you can go into all these really cool villages and just play,” Loignon said.

From 2003 to 2013, when the X Games were held in Los Angeles, the events were held across the city in multiple venues, two of which were about 20 miles apart.

Sgt. Jeff Crawford, who works in APD’s special events unit, said the containment of the X Games’ events makes the police department’s job easier than if it were spread throughout the city.

“It’s like the difference between having a concert at Auditorium Shores and a concert at the Erwin Center,” Crawford said. “That was a big relief in my mind that, ‘Hey, they’re going to have it [at Circuit of the Americas], so we’re not trying to turn a whole bunch of downtown surface streets into a big venue.’”

ESPN estimates between 10,000 and 15,000 people will attend the kickoff event downtown Thursday, Crawford said.

“It’s not going to be just like a flood of people all over downtown,” Crawford said. “For a few hours, it’ll be a few thousand extra, but I don’t think anything too dramatic over a normal weekend on Sixth Street.”

At last year’s X Games in Los Angeles, 100,000 people attended the events.

Kaitlyn Clark, a spokeswoman for Mayor Lee Leffingwell, said the X Games will benefit Austin’s economy, as well as exposing Austin to multiple countries around the world. ESPN will broadcast the X Games in more than 215 countries and territories, and 410 million households will see the games, according to its website.

“To get Austin on the international stage like that is just a really exciting opportunity,” Clark said.

Partly because of the X Games, many bus routes that formerly ran down Congress Avenue began permanently running along Guadalupe and Lavaca on Tuesday, according to Capital Metro.

Loignon said Circuit of the Americas will not provide shuttle service to the venue because the parking lot is large enough for all the expected attendees. According to Loignon, the Circuit expects the majority of attendees to be from the U.S., but some international visitors are expected to attend as well.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

In the weeks leading up to the Civil Rights Summit, city and campus police have worked closely with each other and the Secret Service to plan security procedures for every moment of the presidents’ trip to UT.

The summit, which will be held in the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium, will feature 46 panelists and speeches by Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.

Bob Harkins, who serves as associate vice president for campus safety and security, said security preparation began immediately after the event was announced about a month ago.

“It’s the type of thing where you always say, ‘I wish we’d had more time,’” Harkins said. “But you do what you’ve got to do in the time limits you’re given.”

Harkins said UTPD will use all available resources over the course of the three-day summit.

“We’ve got to cover the entire event for three days, so everyone is participating,” Harkins said. “Other law enforcement agencies around, for example the Capitol Police Department and DPS, will help us with traffic control.”

The Secret Service met with University and LBJ Library officials and will be coordinating up until the start of the summit, according to Harkins.

“Between the University of Texas personnel and the LBJ Library, there are maybe 35 to 40 people involved in various aspects of the planning and preparation, and that’ll go almost up to the last minute,” Harkins said.

APD Sgt. Jeff Crawford said working with the Secret Service requires extra flexibility from law enforcement.

“Up until a week or two out, we may not even know what the route will be because, as you can imagine with the White House, things change daily,” Crawford said. “We’ve literally had it where they’re putting the president in the car to go to the next stop, and we get an ‘OK, route’s changing. We’re going to this location,’ and we’re having to scramble and adjust and go to a whole new location that we may not have been planning on. We have to be very adaptable.”

Crawford said, while APD will be involved in the overall security coverage for the summit, UTPD will handle most of the security surrounding the LBJ Library.

“We coordinate with UTPD and basically have a division of labor, and say ‘OK, here’s what you’re going to handle, and here’s what we’re going to handle,’” Crawford said. “That way we’re not duplicating efforts and everybody’s got their area to deal with. UTPD handles security at any venue on UT grounds, and we usually handle the route or deal with the motorcade getting him from point A to point B.”

Crawford said that, ultimately, most of the decisions pertaining to security are made by the Secret Service.

“In the end, all of us are supplementing the Secret Service,” Crawford said. “It’s kind of their show. They make the majority of the calls, but we have a good working relationship with them and they work really well with us.”