F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix Is Over. How Are We Feeling About It?
It was a year of planning, months of preparation, and a massive headache for locals and visitors alike. When all was said and done, the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix was an hour and 29 minutes of high-speed spectacle, surrounded by trials, severe affects to local businesses and major promises of riches to the city.
So… what’s the verdict? We don’t know, but we have some notes.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix absolutely leveled some businesses
To make this race a reality, a lot of construction and creativity had to come into play. Months of paving (and re-paving, and re-paving) led to major headaches and had people avoiding the Strip and surrounding areas altogether. One business in particular told CBS News that his gas station and convenience store had to lay off half of their workforce and sales dropped around 80 percent after the temporary bridge went up at Flamingo and Koval, leading many to bypass his store altogether. Rumors that the bridge could become permanent could spell the death knell for businesses like his.
That said, the Strip had a big week right? Well, it depends on who you ask. Room rates plummeted during the week. Room occupancy was a fraction of what was expected according to multiple reports. Reports of restaurants closing early, shows changing schedules (or not performing at all) and just a general “vacancy” in the city.
You’ve all seen the videos of what the track is like on the Strip but here’s what it’s like in around the MGM Grand, one of the busiest hotels and casinos in Las Vegas on Friday nights. The Strip is open where it’s located but it’s as dead as I can remember seeing it on a Friday. pic.twitter.com/AEg2xD8dhM— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 18, 2023
It wasn’t all bad. Multiple reports state that the “high rollers” they touted as coming to Las Vegas were, indeed, true. High Limit rooms were popping on the strip. But it was evident that visitors were either here for F1, or they generally avoided Las Vegas for the weekend.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix was a massive pain for employees
There were scores of reports of employees that were trying anything to avoid going to work over F1 weekend. Long commutes due to forced monorail travel meant a nightmare for employees at properties without a stop (looking at you Venetian/Palazzo).
In order to keep employees interested, some properties offered incentives to those who came and worked the race weekend. A decent gesture, but only a slight fraction of those who had to schlep through the added hours and confusion of commuting in will benefit. The rest came in for what appeared to be Wednesday levels of traffic. Some being promised busy nights with high tipping and being met with empty tables and going home early.
Oh, and it was definitely not a cakewalk for fans
The manhole cover. Oh the manhole cover. When Carlos Sainz ran over a manhole whose cover decided to eviscerate the bottom of his race car only a handful of minutes into Practice Round 1, the event came to a screeching halt. Fans who decided to go to the session were promised two hours of practice over two rounds and only received around 8 minutes. Fans meandered for hours awaiting Practice Round 2 at midnight, only to be told it would commence at 2:30am.
If you've never seen a $15 million Formula 1 car hit a loose manhole cover on the Las Vegas Strip, here's your chance pic.twitter.com/rRFFtQWRCq— Las Vegas Locally 🌴 (@LasVegasLocally) November 17, 2023
Then an hour later to be told they wouldn’t be allowed to watch it, despite paying money to do so. For some locals, it was the only event they could afford. Refunds weren’t granted, but a conciliatory $200 merchandise credit was given to those affected. A credit good for a store that sells hats for $100. Now a class action lawsuit has been filed to get fans their money back.
Then there were the fans that were merely hoping to catch a glimpse of the action. Lights were signed in the faces of those riding escalators to hinder their viewing over the track walls. Incredibly aggressive hired security were literally screaming in the faces of pedestrians who had the gall to stand on pedestrian bridges and catch a glimpse of the track. $100 parking at properties. Menus jacked up to milk as much out of those visiting as possible.
Was it worth it?
With all the construction leading up to the event, the troubles during the event, and the expected eight weeks of disassembly of the event’s infrastructure… it leaves us asking if it was all worth it. The race has a 3 year contract with an option to press on for another 7 years. Their F1 building is up on Harmon and not going anywhere. They are already taking asinine deposits for next year’s event which doesn’t seem to be dropping in price any time soon.
Event organizers have tossed around big numbers, anywhere from $1.2 to $1.7 billion, in economic impact. They are saying $1.2 billion already before the dust settles, which has absolutely yet to be proven. They claim 315,000 attendees, but how they come up to those numbers are a mystery. Are they counting the same person for all three days of the event or are they counted three times? Are they simply counting the visitors to the city which tends to get 600,000 visitors per week on average anyways?
When everything settles, the LVCVA will release their findings and we will see if the race is worth it. Potentially. There is no question the race looked amazing on television. But without significant changes that helps that “economic impact” reach to the employees and community that help make the event possible, and a less expensive way for locals who sacrificed countless detours and delays in the lead up to the event to actually attend… we remain skeptical.
Sure, they claim it will bring far more economic impact than the Super Bowl. But the Super Bowl doesn’t give us half a year of headaches.