Here's what locals should know before SXSW 2018 starts

SXSW runs March 9-18 at locations throughout Austin.

SXSW runs March 9-18 at locations throughout Austin.

South by Southwest Conference & Festivals has become synonymous with Austin; the 2017 Zandan poll revealed that it is one of two events most closely tied to the city’s identity, according to the Austin respondents surveyed. SXSW tied with Austin City Limits Music Festival and topped out the Trail of Lights and The University of Texas football games, according to the poll.

But Austin residents will comprise just a portion of the conference’s 70,000 attendees. The official SXSW begins March 9 and continues through March 18. Here is what locals should know about changes at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, ride-share options, local hotel tax revenue and the economic effect of the event.

Changes to know at the airport
There has been a shakeup in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s popular concessions. The east food court—which included such vendors as Hoover’s, Hill’s Cafe and Wok & Roll and was located near gates 7-8—is closed for renovations.

Italian restaurant I Vini opened near gates 20-23, and The Salt Lick opened after renovations were completed last winter. Annie’s Cafe & Bar reopened after some remodeling; clothing store Tyler’s opened a stand across from Gate 10, and Austin Article, a news and gift shop, reopened after remodeling. The nine-gate expansion of the Barbara Jordan Terminal is underway and will cause no interruptions at the gates.

Ride-hailing giants back after missing SXSW 2017
Uber and Lyft are back. After the ride-hailing companies left the city in May 2016, the state Legislature passed a law pre-empting local regulations, such as Austin’s
mandatory fingerprint-based background checks for drivers.

According to Uber, the company saw a huge spike in rides during the 2015 iteration of SXSW. The demand for rides during that time was nearly double that of any other period that year. Fingerprinting for drivers was not yet required in the city, and the company reported more than 250,000 trips during SXSW 2015.

A 2018 economic impact report from Lyft states passengers of the ride-share company spent $15 million at Austin businesses after using the ride-hailing app. Forty-six percent of passengers report spending more at local businesses, and 76 percent of Lyft passengers in Austin used the service to go to restaurants and entertainment venues.

SXSW pitched in $348 million to local economy in 2017, according to report
Adding direct, indirect and induced effects, SXSW contributed a total of $348.6 million to the Austin economy. Direct effects include money directly spent by SXSW, official sponsors, event attendees and exhibitors. Indirect effects includes sales, income and jobs created because of SXSW-related expenditures. Spending by individuals who earn more money because of the festival and conference signifies induced effects.

Hotels  revenue rises, room rates climb
The two talking points on Austin accommodations with regard to SXSW are the number of heads who are finding local beds and the cost for that lodging.

Direct hotel bookings by SXSW totaled 11,605 in individual reservations for an overall 50,000 room nights, meaning the number of hotel rooms booked multiplied by the number of nights in those rooms. Those bookings alone generated nearly $1.8 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue for the city of Austin.



The monthslong search for Austin's new police chief is expected to wrap up before the end of August. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Search for Austin's next top cop narrows to 7 finalists; new chief to be named by end of August

Seven finalists from across the country remain in the search for Austin's next police chief, the city announced July 26.

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning options to students in kindergarten through sixth grade for the 2021-22 school year, according to a July 26 news release from the district. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD plans to offer virtual learning for some students in 2021-22 school year

The district changed course on virtual learning after rising case counts led the local health authority to revert to Stage 4 guidelines, including wearing masks.

Chick-fil-A will open a location in downtown Austin on July 29. (Courtesy Chick-fil-A)
Chick-fil-A coming to downtown Austin; Dutch Bros Coffee opens in Round Rock and more Central Texas news

Located at 600 Congress Ave., Ste. C150, the newest outpost for the fast-food fried chicken giant is locally owned by Luke Steigmeyer.

City and criminal justice representatives gathered July 26 for a virtual forum about public safety in downtown Austin. (Screenshot via Downtown Austin Alliance)
Officials talk violent crime, diversion options amid continuing discussions over downtown Austin safety

City Council this week could also vote to roll out a new Sixth Street public safety strategy and support a county criminal justice diversion program.

State Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin sent a letter July 23 urging Gov. Greg Abbott to allow schools to require masks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas state reps. call on Abbott to permit school mask mandates amid rising COVID-19 cases

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Vikki Goodwin, called upon Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath to permit school districts to enact mask mandates and provide virtual learning options.

photo of Chick-fil-a fries and sauce
Chick-fil-A to open in downtown Austin July 29

A new location for the chicken giant is coming to 600 Congress Ave.

The new 35-story building overlooks Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Workers celebrate topping out of Austin 'sailboat building' concrete structure

Workers who contribute to the construction of the Block 185 building celebrated topping off the structure, a big milestone for the development project that began in 2019.

A system to identify at-risk Austin Police Department employees has not been effective. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Audit finds Austin police system to flag at-risk officers is failing

Austin's city auditor and police chief agree the police department's computer program to identify at-risk officers is not fulfilling its mission.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

Opening day at Q2 Stadium
US men’s soccer team to visit Q2 Stadium this fall

The U.S. men's national team will host Jamaica for a FIFA World Cup qualifier game on Oct. 7.

Capital Metro is hosting a series of virtual meetings to hear feedback from the community on the latest Project Connect designs. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Capital Metro seeks community input on latest Project Connect design

Want to have your voice heard about Project Connect? Tune in to the upcoming virtual meetings.