Miami switches strategy for F1 race vision

Formula One and stakeholders behind the plan to bring a round of the motor-racing championship to Miami have reportedly ended a project to develop a street circuit in the downtown area of the US city in favour of a new vision for a track located adjacent to Hard Rock Stadium.

F1 had been pursuing the street circuit plan, but the Miami Herald newspaper said that the championship and Stephen Ross have mutually agreed to end this vision after deeming that disruption to local businesses and residents would be too great.

Ross, the financial figurehead behind the Relevent Sports agency and owner of NFL American football team the Miami Dolphins and its Hard Rock Stadium home, is one of the officials supporting the Miami F1 effort.

In May 2018, the downtown street circuit plan received the unanimous support of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee. This was looked upon as the first step towards a potential race deal for the ongoing 2019 season, but Formula One has already been forced to delay this to 2020 and reports earlier this month indicated further delays for the project.

Hard Rock Stadium has undergone renovations worth around $700m (€628.6m) in recent years in an effort to transform it into a multi-sport destination. Indeed, the stadium staged leading tennis tournament the Miami Open for the first time from March 18-31 as part of a long-term deal that has moved the event from the Crandon Park facility in Key Biscayne.

“With over 70 per cent of fans expected to come from around the globe and week-long event activation throughout Miami, the economic impact of a Formula One race to Miami would be along the same lines of a Super Bowl,” Tom Garfinkel, vice-chairman and chief executive of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, told the Herald.

“We want to do something great for Miami, but unfortunately when we finally received the detailed report of what it would take to build out a street circuit each year, the multiple weeks of traffic and construction disruption to the port, Bayfront Park and the residents and businesses on Biscayne Boulevard would have been significant; which Steve (Ross) and I felt defeated the purpose.”

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas has hosted the United States Grand Prix since 2012 and F1 has long been seeking a second US race.

Garfinkel added: “A lot would have to happen for us to be able to do it, but we have over 250 acres of land so adding an F1 race to where Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Open sit means we can create a world-class racing circuit that is unencumbered by existing infrastructure.

“It also means better ingress and egress, better amenities, unprecedented sight-lines, and opportunities for the best hospitality anywhere in racing. We can still do parties and events all week downtown, at (South) Beach, and in Brickell. We only want to do it if we can create world-class racing, a great fan experience, and a lot of value for Miami.”