Despite the massive buildup over the past two years for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix this weekend, cost figures and ticket availability suggest that Formula 1 may have missed the mark in its attempt to captivate the American audience.
With a “get-in price” of approximately $2,000, multi-million dollar hospitality packages, and soaring hotel room rates, many have questioned whether the Las Vegas Grand Prix was truly intended to attract new fans from the United States. It’s worth noting that Formula 1’s owners, Liberty Media, seemed to envision the race in Las Vegas as a global spectacle catering primarily to the elite high-roller audience.
On November 3, Renee Wilm, CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, confidently stated, “we will be sold out by the time of the event.” However, just days before the Grand Prix, the situation on the ground tells a different story, according to AP News.
Tickets are still available, and hotel prices on the Strip have seen a significant decline. Reduced ticket prices of up to 60% for certain days leading up to Saturday night’s race highlight the behind-the-scenes concerns. Moreover, local residents have expressed frustration over the traffic disruptions caused by the construction of the 3.85-mile (6.2-kilometer) street circuit, which utilizes a large portion of the Strip.
Currently, all signs point to the possibility that Liberty Media may have miscalculated their pricing strategy to attract new fans and consumers. There were even reports of Formula 1 demanding high licensing fees from businesses with a view of the track, although these fees were eventually relaxed. The concern now lies in how casino employees will commute to work on race day.
F1 and Liberty Media have grand ambitions for Las Vegas, aiming to make it a permanent, long-term fixture for Formula 1 races. They invested $240 million to purchase property at the end of the Strip for the construction of the paddock area and a permanent pit building.
The organizers will consider this week a triumph when everything is concluded, as the return of Formula 1 to Las Vegas after 41 years has transformed into a star-studded entertainment spectacle. Liberty Media’s decision to host the race in early 2022 was clearly aimed at capitalizing on the growing popularity of F1 in the United States, partly fueled by the influence of Netflix.
The inclusion of Las Vegas in the 2023 calendar marks the third location in the U.S., surpassing any other country, and the fifth in North America. Austin, Texas, served as the sole F1 destination in the U.S. until the addition of Miami in 2022. The last time the U.S. hosted three F1 races in a single season was in 1982.