Formula 1 Evaluating Miami as a Grand Prix Venue

City officials and Formula 1 representatives met earlier this month to examine Miami’s suitability for a street circuit.

byJames Gilboy| PUBLISHED Nov 30, 2017 2:47 PM
Formula 1 Evaluating Miami as a Grand Prix Venue

It has been months since the last development in the story of Liberty Media's efforts to expand the Formula 1 calendar. Turkey, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Argentina, and Vietnam have manifested themselves as candidates, however unlikely, for Grand Prix hosts. Options within the United States include cities such as Long Beach, The Big Apple, and Sin City, two of which have briefly hosted the sport in the past. Now, another American urban center is elbowing its way into the circle, as Miami Herald reports that the sport's commercial rights holder, Liberty Media, has sent envoys to Miami to meet with local officials about the possibility of bringing Formula 1 to the city by 2020.

Six potential street circuit routes have been drawn up, utilizing landmarks such as American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat NBA team, Dodge Island, Biscayne Boulevard, two bridges over Biscayne Bay, and the Port Miami Tunnel. The tunnel, however, linking Dodge Island to Jungle Island, is said not to be an option, which will force Liberty Media to rethink the potential street circuit.

Sean Bratches, the sport's managing director of commercial operations, met Nov. 8 with Mayor Francis Suarez and the city's film and culture administrator, Vicente Betancourt. According to Betancourt, logistics, an actual circuit route, and most importantly, cost, need to be settled before pen can be put to paper.

“They had their track engineers come down and look at the streets,” said Betancourt to Miami Herald, “we’ve got to see if it works and what it would cost them to actually bring it out ... I was very blunt with [Formula 1] and said we’d love to entertain it but we have no money.”

Citing the above cost concerns, as well as exaggerated claims of construction and noise pollution, local opposition to the event has already arrived in the form of Better Florida Alliance. The hosting fee problems are real for even the sport's classic circuits, such as Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, which has seen the yearly motor race dip further into the red each year. This year, the track's owners broke their contract with the sport after a forecast projected financial losses to increase in severity for the duration of the deal.

Should the Miami deal fall through, both the NYC and Las Vegas races appear to be gaining traction as fallback options. All three cities were the subject of a trademark filed earlier this month by the sport's management with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, securing the rights to three variants of each name. Auto Guide reports that Liberty Media is seeking a total of six races to be held in time zones shared with the U.S. At present, only four take place in the Americas, which include Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Texas.

Provided the trademark filings can be taken as proof of interest on Liberty Media's behalf, two of the three cities that have reached this stage of consideration may well end up with their own Grands Prix. Given the problems faced by Miami city officials with finding a suitable street circuit and the cash to host a race, The Magic City may be the least likely of the three to see Formula 1 visit in the future.