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F1: A change of plan in Miami?

According to reports, Formula One and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have given up on their original plan to host an F1 race on a street track that would run down Biscayne Boulevard and pass through Bayfront Park, and are now looking at a semi-permanent location adjacent to the Hard Rock Stadium. (Shades of Las Vegas?)

The original plans were always in doubt, with residents and businesses seriously concerned at the disruption the event would cause and the negative impact it would have.

“We want to do something great for Miami,” Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, tells the Miami Herald, “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 and I felt defeated the purpose.”

However, F1 and Ross are now looking at an alternative venue, adjacent to the Hard Rock Stadium, which, courtesy of $700m in privately funded renovation, is now a leading sports and entertainment venue.

“With over 70 percent 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,” says Garfinkel.

“A lot would have to happen for us to be able to do it,” he admits, “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,” he insists.

While the idea is still in its infancy, the location makes sense, the Hard Rock Stadium having hosted all manner of events, including concerts by U2 and Beyonce, as well as the Miami Open tennis tournament.

As far as the Bayfront Park location is concerned, it was inevitable that it wasn’t going to happen, the recent confirmation that a vote on the event had been postponed until May 23, merely the latest in a long line of set-backs.

Almost from the moment it bought F1, Liberty Media made clear that its intention was to open up the sport in its own backyard, and while talk of events in a number of other cities has gone quiet, Miami remained at the forefront of its plans.

In the face of opposition from local residents who sent a cease and desist order to Miami’s City Hall demanding that it stop negotiations over the race, plans to hold the inaugural event this year were scrapped. Shortly after, F1’s commercial boss, Sean Bratches revealed that FOM had “decided, in consultation with the Miami authorities, to postpone sign-off until later in the summer, with the aim of running the first Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix in the 2020 season”.

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