F1 Demands Las Vegas Venues Pay for a View of the Race: Report
The series has allegedly threatened to block sightlines to the track for businesses that don’t pay a hefty licensing fee.
Getting tickets to a motorsport event can at times be expensive. Sometimes a nifty workaround is to park yourself up at a nearby restaurant or building with a good view of the track. Formula 1 is wise to this, though, and is demanding Las Vegas venues stump up cash if they want an unobstructed view of the action.
According to reports from the New York Post, Las Vegas venues have complained that executives are asking for payments to guarantee clear views from their businesses. Fail to pay up, and the series will obstruct sightlines to the circuit, by way of barricades, stands, or other means. Sources told the New York Post that F1 staffers working for Renee Wilm, the Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO, indicated that lights could be shined towards businesses that don't pay up, in order to dazzle anyone trying to sneak a peek for free.
The outlet has reportedly seen a letter requesting a $1,500 per head payment for licensing rights. A restaurant with 1,000 seats, for example, would be up for $1.5 million under such conditions. It's a huge sum, almost akin to forcing venue owners to buy tickets for every seat in the house. Of course, as we already know, getting into the Las Vegas Grand Prix doesn't come cheap. One study suggests it's already the most expensive race to attend on the calendar, with an average three-day ticket price of $6,651.
The letter was allegedly sent to venues along the track, like Planet Hollywood and Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer. “Las Vegas Grand Prix will use reasonable efforts to maintain sightedness from licensee’s venue to the track/race,” read the letter viewed by the Post. “The license fee will equal the maximum occupancy of licensee’s venue (per fire code) multiplied by $1,500.” Notably, venues like the Venetian and Wynn hotels aren't being asked to pay the fee. That's by virtue of the fact they already sponsor the race, to the tune of many millions of dollars.
The event will run from November 16 to 18, with the main race itself taking place on a Saturday night, a rarity in modern F1. The 3.8-mile street circuit will see F1 cars tearing down Las Vegas Boulevard, famously known as the Strip. The track passes many of the city's most famous hotels, including Caesars Palace and the Bellagio, as well as the new and monstrous Las Vegas Sphere display.
There's likely nothing illegal about asking venues to pay up, and F1 is generally within its rights to build whatever barricades or signage it sees fit. It's a wily maneuver, even if it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of Vegas business owners.
If it makes good business sense, some venues may pay the toll, and hike their cover charges to match. If it doesn't, they may just tell F1 to pound sand. In the latter case, the series will then have to contemplate whether erecting barriers is worth the extra hassle and expense. In any case, if you were hoping a nicely-positioned hotel room or bar might get you a cheap view of the track, you might be out of luck. As is so often the case in Vegas.
Got a tip? Let the author know: firstname.lastname@example.org