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Las Vegas Grand Prix encounters speed bumps before race
Updated November 16, 2023
Formula 1’s realization of the overestimated demand for the Las Vegas Grand Prix came somewhat belatedly.
Scheduled for this Saturday, November 18 (with free practice beginning on Thursday) at 10 p.m. PT, the event promises to be a spectacle, having incurred the highest expenditure of $500 million among all races held this year.
However, a significant hurdle emerged less than a week before the event—the challenge of insufficient demand. Despite the substantial investment, there might be a shortage of spectators to witness the grandeur.
The primary issue revolves around demand. From the outset, it was evident that the Grand Prix wasn’t aimed at attracting new Formula 1 enthusiasts or fostering increased American interest.
Initial entry fees ranged from approximately $2,000 to an average of around $7,000. Hotels in the vicinity surged their rates in anticipation of the global event, tailored to international high-rollers.
On November 3, the CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix made a bold assertion, anticipating a sold-out event by the time it commenced.
Contrary to this prediction, the event is struggling to garner attention, prompting significant reductions in ticket prices—nearly 60 percent—and substantial cuts of up to 80 percent in hotel rates for the nights leading up to the race, as reported by KTNV Las Vegas.
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Most expensive race ticket
Formula 1 race tickets are notorious for their steep prices, averaging around $600. Opting for more budget-friendly locations like Hungary, Imola, or Austria, along with cost-conscious choices for accommodation and travel, could set you back approximately $370-$400.
In comparison, Las Vegas demands a higher ticket price, starting at $110 for a single-day pass, while the three-day pass goes for over $850. In contrast, the Hungarian Grand Prix offers a three-day pass ranging from $125 to $180 as of Wednesday, November 15.
Formula 1 has not officially confirmed a sold-out status for the race, and Greg Maffei has had to respond to substantial public backlash regarding ticket prices.
High demand and hotels imposing five-night minimums have contributed to elevated costs, with the cheapest grandstand seat priced at $1500 and Strip venue packages starting at around $5,000, reaching up to a $5 million package at Caesars Palace.
Nevertheless, the success of the Las Vegas event is likely to be gauged more on its ability to enhance Formula One’s visibility in the United States and worldwide rather than solely on ticket sales.
Despite price reductions for the Vegas event, Formula 1 and Liberty still aspire to recoup their substantial initial investment and more, banking on the relatively high ticket prices.
Long term race plans
Greg Maffei, the CEO of Liberty Media, the owner of Formula One, has issued an apology for the disruption caused in Las Vegas, acknowledging workers’ concerns regarding the sport’s impact on local infrastructure.
Notably, Caesars Palace hosted its own Grand Prix in 1981 and 1982, an endeavor deemed an “absolute nightmare” by the former president of the Caesars Palace Grand Prix.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix, distinct from its historical counterpart, has been extensively promoted for nearly two years, envisioned as a monumental event with the potential to generate billions of dollars.
While Maffei asserts that the Las Vegas Grand Prix can recover its $500 million investment, skepticism lingers, and profitability remains challenging.
Formula 1 is eager to establish Las Vegas as a permanent fixture on the F1 schedule, and the current setback doesn’t deter this ambition. Future endeavors may involve more realistic expectations from the outset.
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