LAS VEGAS — The CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix was pleased with Formula 1’s first race on the famed Strip but admitted Sunday that there were missteps in the $500 million showcase event of the season.
Renee Wilm told The Associated Press first-time organizers F1 and owner Liberty Media worked tirelessly on a tight timeline of less than two years to prepare for Saturday night’s race. The weeklong event drew 315,000 spectators over four nights and brought in an estimated $1.2 billion in economic impact.
However, Wilm acknowledged that community relations could have been better to help local residents cope with the disruptions and road closures as the massive 3.85-mile (6.2 kilometer), 17-turn circuit was built.
But Wilm acknowledged community relations could have been better to help local residents cope with the disruptions and road closures as the massive 3.85-mile (6.2 kilometer), 17-turn circuit was built. It was an enormous project and insiders believe it caused Liberty to spend far more than the $500 million it was expected to cost to bring F1 back to Las Vegas for the first time since 1982.
Aside from the disruptions for locals, businesses complained that their traffic was down because customers could not access the establishments, and restaurants and nightclubs complained F1 threatened to erect structures to obscure any views if they didn’t pay exorbitant licensing fees.
The upside to the community is that F1 and Liberty used part of their funds to fully repave the Strip and the circuit used and multiple temporary pedestrian bridges were built for the event.
She said more attention has to be given to transportation issues as the planning for 100,000 hotel rooms over the 3.85-mile circuit was the most daunting task of the event.
Wilm said the LVGP did not ask for a waiver on the live entertainment tax, a decision that allowed Nevada to receive “hundreds of millions of dollars in the coffers to use for teachers, for public safety, for STEM schools” she said.
The average Americans complained that they were outpriced by the tickets for the LVGP and the highly-jacked hotel rates. F1 eventually offered a lower-priced general admission ticket, but in the end, was not sold out Saturday night and many hotels had dramatically reduced their rates.
The LVGP on Saturday opened up the deposit period for 2024 tickets with the lowest deposit $250 for one grandstand ticket up to $5,000 for one ticket in private hospitality.
She wouldn’t commit specifically to F1 and Liberty making changes to the pricing structure.
“I think we are going to take a look at a lot of things from year one and think about what we did well and what we can improve on next year,” she said. “I think we want to add more general admission ticketing. We want to be able to lean in more and look for ways to up the ante on the entertainment, while making sure it is a top-notch sporting event.
When it was all said and done, and Max Verstappen won his 18th race of the season in what might have been F1’s most entertaining race of the year, any animosity over the race had blown up with the New Year’s Eve-style fireworks show that blanketed the strip. The missteps earlier in the week had been overshadowed by the racing itself, and even Verstappen, who had complained the LVGP was “99% show, and 1% sporting event” had become a convert.
“I don’t think we could have done the Las Vegas Grand Prix, this type of spectacle, anywhere else in the world,” Wilm said. “When you think of the glamour and the high end hospitality offerings, the entertainment level, when we decided to bring this race to town, we wanted to accentuate those unique attributes of the valley and really highlight them while also putting together what we hoped would be just an epic sporting event as well.
“We are so thrilled with the final result. The response to Saturday night has been absolutely incredible.”