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This bridge was built for F1. Here’s why some want it taken down

Updated January 9, 2024 - 3:43 pm

Las Vegas businesses that say they lost millions of dollars when Formula One road closures kept their customers away now hope to recover some of that money through public pressure on race organizers.

Some of that pressure amped up Tuesday when a Southern Nevada business development specialist appealed to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors for the removal of a temporary bridge on Flamingo Road built for November’s Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, president and CEO of Mayo &Associates, also asked for the establishment of a small business recovery fund to reimburse businesses that lost an estimated $23 million during the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix race Nov. 16-18.

“How can we possibly move ahead to another race when the business people and the community are waving the yellow flag so we can clean up the mess on the track before we ever think of getting the green flag to start racing again?” Mayo-DeRiso said during a public comment period at the end of the LVCVA board meeting.

Government entities are forbidden from acting on matters raised in public comment sessions, and County Commissioner Jim Gibson, who chairs the LVCVA board, had no response to Mayo-DeRiso’s concerns.

Mayo-DeRiso said she represents nine businesses in the Flamingo Road-Koval Lane-Harmon Avenue area that in total lost an estimated $23 million because of road closures and blocked entrances to their businesses from late spring through November.

“Imagine not changing anything about your product, how you market your customer service, guest quality, nothing, and yet you watch your business drop off 50 percent or more in a matter of months,” she said. “There is literally nothing you can do because, by giving our public streets to a private enterprise who closed roads and put up 5 million orange cones and redirected traffic that visitors for years have relied on to get to Ferraro’s, Battista’s, Ellis Island and Jay’s Market, was a mess. Reservations were canceled, gas was not pumped and the casino floors were not full.”

Representatives of Jay’s Market, Battista’s Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant, Ferraro’s Ristorante and the Stage Door Casino complained through the fall that F1-related blockages were killing their businesses.

“We at Ferraro’s have lost an excess of more than $2 million in revenue,” Gino Ferraro, owner of Ferraro’s Ristorante, 4480 Paradise Road, said in a letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It raises the question: How can our Las Vegas leadership allow local businesses to struggle and suffer for a three- or four-day event? Who profited? A few hotels? It doesn’t make sense.”

The LVCVA board is composed of eight elected officials and six resort and tourism executives.

Ferraro said his Italian restaurant employs nearly 80 people and their pay was down 20 percent from last year.

County crews began work in April to pave a 3.8-mile race course to F1 track standards. The project blocked some business entrances and discouraged customers from patronizing them.

Earlier in Tuesday’s meeting, LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill told board members that 2023 — in part because of the successful Formula One race — was the most financially lucrative year in Las Vegas history and set the stage for the city’s next big event, next month’s Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

But Mayo-DeRiso demanded that the temporary bridge built to smooth traffic flow on Flamingo be dismantled as soon as possible to prevent continued losses to the businesses leading up to the Super Bowl.

Hill said after the LVCVA’s November board meeting that talks were underway between the LVCVA, Clark County and F1 leaders to build a permanent bridge structure because the temporary one smoothed Flamingo traffic so well.

Mayo-DeRiso said her next move is to establish meetings with county officials about the process of dismantling the bridge and establishing a fund to compensate businesses for their losses.

“I ask you do the right thing for these businesses, our city and the future of events in Las Vegas,” she told the board.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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