Formula 1 is going all-in at the Las Vegas Grand Prix and PlanetF1 spoke to the organizers to see how it went.
There’s no shortage of glamorous stages on the F1 calendar, but in 2023 there will be a new contender. Long-held plans came to fruition in March when Formula 1 announced the sport would travel to Sin City in November next year.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix is largely the brainchild of the sport’s owners, Liberty Media, who set clear goals after their acquisition of the sport in 2017 to break into the US and Chinese markets.
As the latter hit a COVID-shaped speed bump, the success of their first goal is beyond doubt. The Las Vegas Grand Prix is the last piece of a campaign that has been in the making for a long time.
As Emily Prazer, former business development manager at F1 and now commercial director of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, told PlanetF1, a west coast destination has always been the target.
“I think investing in the United States speaks for itself,” she said. “COTA is incredibly important and they laid the groundwork.
“Then you have Miami and a partnership with the [NFL team Miami] The dolphins were such a big fork in the ground
“If you have Texas and the East Coast, then we have to do something on the West Coast and Vegas is just the city to do it. I don’t think you can ask for three best places in America to have three races.
But shutting down one of the busiest streets in the world for a weekend was going to prove costly in time and money. Perhaps then, the easiest option would be to find a developer willing to shoulder the development costs, but Liberty Media took a different tack, choosing to do everything in-house.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix breaks tradition in more ways than one. For starters, the race will take place on a Saturday rather than the usual Sunday slot and it will also be the third of three races all in one country that season.
But even in structure, the grand prix is not like the other 23 races it will share the 2023 calendar with.
“In general, F1 has a licensing model,” Prazer explained. “So in this case, Formula 1 and Liberty Media have created a company called Las Vegas Grand Prix Inc, which will be the promoter of the race.
“It’s one thing to organize a race, but it’s another to organize a race that has never happened before, especially in a city like Vegas.
“Vegas just orders a completely different model because of the infrastructure here, the casinos and the customers. I don’t think a government race in Vegas would ever have been part of the strategic plan, so it was something we wanted to do to make the race happen.
“It’s fully supported by Liberty and the benefit of that is that they’re an hour and a half from Denver. So infrastructure-wise, they’ve been incredibly supportive. We went on a human shopping spree, we have 44 people now.
“We are Liberty employees working from the Vegas office as if we were a promoter, but working hand in hand with F1 to create the best event in the world.”
It is this objective that they are aiming for and the considerable investment they have already made, even one year from the race, shows that they are serious.
The purchase of 39 acres of land for $240 million east of the Strip which will house the stands, paddock as well as a year-round facility is the biggest signal of this intention.
“You have American owners constantly telling you they want to compete with the Super Bowl and I think this is the event that will compete with the Super Bowl,” Prazer predicted.
“We are planning a huge fan festival of 45,000 people. We work with casinos to make watch parties.
“The idea is, by November 2023, to just focus on the best race in the world and to make sure that we don’t let the ball slip on that.
“From 2024, [the plot of land] will be a multipurpose facility. One of the things we have committed to our customers is that this will not be a hotel or a casino, so it is an F1 experience centre.
“What goes in there is TBD, but it’s year-round infrastructure.”
As with any event, there have been concerns about how much fans will have to pay to watch the race, but Prazer sought to reassure them that there will be a prize for everyone.
“’We are planning affordable general admission areas and it will be in a hospitality area. So we try to make sure it’s accessible.
“The other thing we’re trying to do is add value to our tickets, so I think we’re going to be the first all-inclusive race on the calendar. So food and drink, excluding the alcohol for legal purposes, will come with any type of grandstand ticket purchased.
“We’re trying to think that ‘yes, Vegas is going to cost more’, but how do we then restore value by making sure people can afford the ticket they want or have access to the tickets they want? they want.
“From our point of view, it’s how to reproduce the feeling that everyone is welcome. There are over 150,000 hotel rooms here in Vegas, which means there’s plenty of space and Vegas attracts everyone, there’s super luxury, but there are also hotel rooms. A very good value for money.
With just over a year to go, Prazer had a goal she hoped to achieve under the checkered flag.
“Doing the show where we promise our fans and customers,” she replied. “Offer what people expect.
“I think that’s what keeps me awake at night. Pressure [of] be Formula 1 and be Vegas. With all the news and what everyone is talking about, you can feel it.
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