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Fan Fest, paddock plans show Formula One’s commitment to Las Vegas — PHOTOS

Updated November 6, 2022 - 6:52 am

Formula One held its Las Vegas Grand Prix Fan Fest on the Strip on Saturday, but what’s occurring just north of there is what shows the organization’s commitment to the Las Vegas Valley.

Fans got their first glimpse of F1 race cars on the Strip, with multiple drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez, taking a test run on a short track on Las Vegas Boulevard. The demo was the main attraction to the daylong event at Caesars Palace.

On 40 acres of land on the northeast corner of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane, F1 will construct a 300,000-square-foot, four-story paddock building, which will serve as the hub of activity during the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

“It’s hard to make a statement in Vegas because everything is so big,” said Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, the ownership group of Formula One. “This paddock building will be a sign of our long-term commitment to the Vegas community. It will serve as a year-round attraction to our fans and will be one of our most spectacular facilities.”

Between the land purchase and building construction, F1 will have invested $500 million in Las Vegas before a race even occurs, according to Gov. Steve Sisolak.

“It’s going to change the landscape in the sports environment in Las Vegas forever,” Sisolak said.

“They told me between the land and what they’re building that they’re putting here, that’s a half a billion dollars, right here. On top of everything else they’re building. All the stands on the Strip, all the other things that they’re putting together. The economic impact this is going to make in the economy in Las Vegas is going to be astronomical.”

The Las Vegas Grand Prix isn’t just a one-time thing; the race is signed to occur at least three times starting next year. But hope is to make the race the marquee one on F1’s schedule for the foreseeable future.

“The intention is for this to be a permanent event,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “It’s going to be spectacular. We want it every year, and they want to be here.”

F1 officials plan to use the paddock site for other events outside of non-race weekends, getting their monies worth from the eye-popping facility.

“This is a true investment in Clark County, in the community,” said Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft. “This will be a permanent facility. Yes, it will be used for the world’s greatest events, for Formula One events. But it will also be here year-round employing people, putting people to work. And also boosting our economy and giving us one more thing to be proud of.”

Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said the paddock building cements Formula One’s commitment to the city.

“We want to stay for a long time,” Domenicali said. “It’s with great excitement that we’re there to celebrate this moment that is just the beginning. … This will be the F1 statement in Las Vegas. We know when you come here you need to be big.”

When tickets went on sale and some resorts’ room schedules were opened up this week, the price shock caught some people by surprise.

Tickets started at $500 for a three-day pass to the 2023 race, going to up to at least $10,000. Room rates began around $700 per night but were well over $1,000 per night for locations along the race route.

While the costs are high, the race will draw droves of people from all over the world who will gladly pay the heightened fees, Sisolak said.

“People are willing to pay from all over the world to come see it,” he said. “People are going to be staying all over town here. Every hotel has got increased room prices by 300-400 percent. It’s not that they’re gouging people; they’ve got an investment in this as well.”

The sky-high hotel prices speak to the international draw, a segment that is still slowly returning to Las Vegas post-pandemic, Naft said.

“People from all over the world have been watching for those rates become available and bookings open up,” Naft said. “It also speaks to the incredible impact this is going to have on our economy. Those room rates also translate to hotel tax revenue, sales tax revenue and those are the dollars that literally help boost the economy for people like me and family who live here.”

The people who will be in the stands around the Strip and surrounding area next year aren’t the only ones who will be excited. The drivers they will be watching are itching to race along one of the most famous stretches of roads in the world.

“I think it’s going to be wild, to be honest,” said F1 star driver George Russell. “Super excited to come here and race in Vegas. I think we’ve seen the momentum that Formula One has in America, and bringing the race to Vegas is just topping that off at another level. As drivers, as people in the sport, we’re excited.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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