The CEO of Liberty Media – the company that holds the commercial rights to F1 – Greg Maffei, has apologised to the residents of Las Vegas and the surrounding area for the inconvenience caused by the preparatory work for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which has had an impact on their daily lives over recent months.
With Formula 1 returning to Las Vegas this year for the first time since 1982, the residents of the famous city in the state of Nevada have had to endure many months of work and modifications of all kinds to enable the construction of the 6-kilometre long track on which the Formula 1 drivers will be racing this weekend.
Certainly it will be a spectacle, with the Vegas Strip famous for its incredible night-time views, and with the inclusion of the brand new ‘Sphere’ as part of the circuit, TV audiences around the world will be treated to all that the famous city has to offer, or at least that’s what F1 is hoping to achieve to appease the angry locals.
The Sphere in Las Vegas at the heart of the F1 circuit
This weekend at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the F1 drivers will be racing in a setting that is unique in the world, as they take to the Vegas Strip – the famous avenue with the many illuminated signs of the various hotels and casinos for which the city is famous – but there will also be this enormous sphere of light right in the middle of the circuit.
The Sphere (as the building is officially known) is a 110-metre-high spherical structure entirely covered in 1.2 million LED panels. Inside the structure, the largest of its kind in the world, is a 15,000m2 screen with 16k resolution. Costing $2.3 billion, The Sphere was inaugurated at the beginning of October with a concert by U2.
During the Grand Prix weekend in Las Vegas, The Sphere will obviously be used for commercial purposes by Formula 1, but also by various players in the paddock, such as Pirelli, which has already indicated that a reproduction of one of its tyres, alternating with the company logo – the famous long P – will be displayed on the building’s LED screens. The roof of The Sphere will also be used by Pirelli for an animation.
Once on the track, drivers will be able to observe The Sphere from Turn 4 and will have an unobstructed view of the building in the middle of the second sector when the imposing building appears in front of their car at the entrance to the first chicane on the circuit, which should provide fans with some spectacular on-board cameras.
What is the purpose of The Sphere?
The Sphere is first and foremost an entertainment venue, with a concert hall inside equipped with over 17,000 seats, which had to be fitted with a speaker system providing directional and individualised sound, as the spherical shape of the building makes it impossible to obtain the best possible sound during a concert or film broadcast.
In the auditorium, some seats are also equipped with haptic feedback, while beneath the sphere is a highly sophisticated ventilation system capable of reproducing gusts of wind inside the auditorium for total immersion. The buzz around The Sphere is such that there is already talk of a second building of this type in London in the UK, and even a third that could be set up in New York in the United States.
— F1 Las Vegas (@F1LasVegas) November 13, 2023
F1 estimates 1.7 billion return for the city of Las Vegas to enjoy
Aware of the inconvenience caused, the CEO of Liberty Media apologised on behalf of Formula 1 to the local population.
“I would like to apologise to all the residents of Las Vegas. We appreciate their patience and tolerance with us,” Greg Maffei told Fox5Vegas.
Maffei insisted that the inconvenience was a blessing in disguise, as he estimates that the economic impact of the race on the city of Las Vegas and the surrounding region could reach more than $1.5 billion.
“We’re going to generate around $1.7 billion in revenue for the region. So it’s not just for the benefit of the fans who want to watch [F1].”
“We hope it will be a great economic benefit for Las Vegas. Hopefully this will be the most difficult year with all the construction going on and things will be easier in the future.”
F1: Insane ticket prices not our fault
The arrival of so many fans in Las Vegas for the weekend has obviously pushed up the price of accommodation, but Greg Maffei believes that Formula 1’s responsibility is limited. Indeed, although many fans will come to Las Vegas to watch Formula 1 after buying a ticket, some will come just to soak up the atmosphere without actually attending the practice sessions, which inevitably drives up prices as demand outstrips supply.
Maffei also insists that many of the hotels in the region offer multi-day packages, which again drives up the price.
“A lot of people come for that [Formula 1]. But frankly, [the increase] in costs is not entirely ours,” he added.
“I don’t blame our partners, but you know, the minimum five-night stays in hotels and that sort of thing have contributed to driving up costs. So it’s not just about ticket prices,” he insisted in response to those who felt that tickets to see F1 in Las Vegas were too expensive.
“I think it’s the whole experience [that drives up prices] and, frankly, the fact that there’s so much demand too.”
The Las Vegas Grand Prix is scheduled to take place from 16 to 18 November 2023.
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