Miami authorities approve F1 race proposal

Formula One is set to press on with a deal to bring a round of the motor racing championship to Miami next year after the proposal received the unanimous support of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

The announcement was made following a public hearing in the US city yesterday (Thursday), with stakeholders seeking to add a second race in the United States in October 2019. “F1 is a worldwide sport with approximately 1.8 billion TV viewers annually,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said, according to the Autosport website.

“I believe it will help in the transition of the city of Miami from a gateway city to a global city. It has a potential economic boost of over $2.8bn (€2.3bn), (a figure recorded) between the years of 2012 and 2015 in downtown Austin, which is the only other city in the United States that has an F1 race.

“We would be probably the only city in the world that has F1 and all five major (US) sports. This is a first step, and hopefully at some point there will be an agreement come before this commission that has been vetted by the community and be voted on.”

Thursday’s approval means a host city contract will now be drawn up, which will be studied by the City Commission before July 1. The Bayfront Park commercial centre has now joined the parties negotiating the deal with Formula One, while the Port of Miami has offered its backing following initial concerns over access restrictions.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz, who sponsored the bid along with Suarez, said: “It is something for our community that would be incredible; this is the pinnacle, to add all of the sports together so we can be the world leader in all of sports. I believe this can be an incredible financial gain for the city and South of Florida – way beyond the levels of what we've seen before, like basically having the Super Bowl every year.”

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas has hosted the United States Grand Prix since 2012, but F1 has long aspired to add a second US race, with Miami touted as a leading contender. Miami is set to stage a fan festival ahead of this year’s US Grand Prix and F1’s licensing arm in November submitted an application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation to trademark the ‘Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix’ and the ‘Formula 1 Grand Prix of Miami’ names.

Billionaire Stephen M. Ross, the financial figurehead behind the Relevent Sports agency and owner of NFL American football team the Miami Dolphins, is one of the figureheads supporting the Miami F1 effort.

In a statement, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, Sean Bratches, said: “We recognise that this is only the start of the process and we will immediately get to work with the various community stakeholders, the City of Miami, the Port of Miami, Bayfront Park Management Trust and others, in order to reach a final agreement.

“Formula One in Miami represents a fantastic opportunity to bring the greatest racing spectacle on the planet to one of the world’s most iconic cities, and we are delighted that the journey is underway.”