The much lauded F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix is now less than a week away and the preparations in the city are at fever pitch. The Culinary Union of workers appears to be negotiating a settlement which will prevent some 60,000 workers going on strike during the F1 weekend.
New five year contracts have been tentatively agreed with the largest group of these people, this who are employed by MGM though the Caesars empire is expected to follow closely.
F1 Vegas tickets did not sell out
Yet something else is moving and shaking in Vegas and it is the ticket and hotel room prices. The opportunity to watch the race for spectators comes from two main sources.
Formula One themselves have erected a vast number of grandstands around the final and opening sections of the lap on land it owns. Then there are the Vegas venues who are offering packages to customers, some from the hotels include a room, drinks and food package together with tickets for the grand stands erected in what is usually the car park.
The Belaggio have turned off their fountains and erected hospitality brand stands, while the Venetian has drained its entrance lagoon to build the structure for a vast number of seats.
Yet unlike Miami for its inaugural year Las Vegas did not sell out in 32 minutes. In fact tickets are still available as are hotel rooms for the three day event.
Most expensive sports tickets ever
It is no exaggeration to state that the F1 tickets for Las Vegas have been competing for the title off the most expensive sports tickets ever. General admission was $500 but certain Casino’s were offering packages for hotel rooms and event hospitality around the $100,000 mark.
Wynn Las Vegas was on the highest shelf with a $1 million ticket package that included hospitality box seats and a three-bedroom duplex suite.
Whilst Formula One is experiencing a huge surge in popularity in the United Staes, the celebrity appearances on the grid are more a reflection of a gratis experiences offered but a team rather than a wealthy person wishing to spend their hard earned cash at the Formula One event.
Vegas will be the proving ground as to whether Formula One can be marketed up there with the Super Bowl which is a knock out final kind of sporting occasion rather than just another of the 24 races a year.
Ticket prices now halved
Ticket prices for Saturday nights on track action have fallen another 35% according to CNN. Now a grandstand ticket which was priced at $2,000 has fallen to $1,060.
Hotel prices have fallen too to around half of the rate on offer when the Las Vegas Grand Prix was announced.
The preparations for the F1 extravaganza in Las Vegas has been extensive and tried the patience of the loc all in the extreme. It will only be some months later when the city welcomes the NFL’s big party in February that the full picture will emerge of F1’s financial impact on Sin City.
The Casino’s have been kind of left to fend for themselves while F1 has been busy selling it vast number of grandstand tickets around the start and finish of the lap. Whether it is worth all the hassle for what the Cason’s make extra will be a simple piece of mathematics done by the accountants in due course.
Vegas should be booked up
The problem for Las Vegas is the city has around 150,000 rooms for hire and if much of these are taken up by regular F1 fans without a penchant for gambling, the gains from the F1 hype may not equal the inward flow of cash on a regular weekend.
Regardless, F1 has a 10 year agreement with Las Vegas though the preparations have been far more painful than for example they are in Monaco. Firstly the principality is one of the slickest operations on the F1 calendar both in speed of set up and tear down but also including the marshalling of the event.
But the strip in Vegas is no single lane winding road through the hills of French Riviera – It is an 8 lane monster that has been blocked now for weeks upsetting the thousands of taxi drivers more than most.
Whatever happens on track with temperatures expected to be in the single digit degree celsius temperatures, the spectacle of the F1 cars hurtling down the neon flooded strip will be a spectacular sight and Max Verstappen is set to equal one of Lewis Hamilton’s records in the Nevada desert.
F1 built biggest building of its kind
The most pole positions in a season from the former world champion is 12 and Verstappen this year at present sits on 11. That said the RB19 has not been designed to be the quickest over one lap rather to be the best race car in terms of pace and minimal tyre degradation.
Sebastian Vettel holds the all time record for poles in one year which stands at 16 and is one record this year which is beyond Verstappen’s reach.
Formula One have taken the unprecedented step to promote the race in Vegas themselves and have constructed and brand new, permanent four-level pit building – on Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane – that runs the length of three American Football Stadiums. That makes it the largest of its kind on the F1 calendar.
F1 brings more money than the Super Bowl
This will house many of the the expected 100,000 daily fans expected to visit Vegas on what is traditionally their second slowest weekend of the year before thanksgiving.
Steve Hill, President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, expecting 120,000 visitors from outside of Vegas for the event and for hoteliers this should mean an extra 60,000 hotel rooms sold and the projected economic benefit for the city is a whopping $1.2billion.
The climax of the NFL season, the Super Bowl, will also take place this year in Vegas but is expected to bring just half the economic benefit of F1 – around $600m – which is why the city’s administrators have agreed to the weeks long chaos required to set up the city for their biggest ever race.