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Las Vegas invites Ecclestone for Grand Prix discussion

NEWS STORY
23/10/2014

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that the organisers of a Grand Prix in Las Vegas have asked him to meet them in the city before the United States Grand Prix next weekend according to an article in Autoweek by Christian Sylt.

As Pitpass revealed last week, Ecclestone is in discussions about hosting a street race in Vegas on a track which would include the city's famous Strip. The project is understood to be at an advanced stage as a senior motorsport source in the United States said that F1's track designer Hermann Tilke has visited Vegas several times to create the layout of the course. Ecclestone says he has now been asked to visit before the US Grand Prix in Texas.

"There is a consortium in Las Vegas that wants to arrange a race. They are very serious and want me to go out there on the way to Texas so we will see," says Ecclestone. He added to Autoweek that the group does not include casino magnate Steve Wynn or Guy Laliberté, the co-founder of circus company Cirque du Soleil which has eight shows in Vegas resorts.

Both Wynn and Laliberté are personal friends with Ecclestone and he says "It's not Steve Wynn or Guy. Steve isn't interested in it."

Hosting a Grand Prix in Vegas fits with the city's strategy of diversifying from a tourist industry which depends on declining gaming income. In 2013 gambling revenue on The Strip came to £4bn which was below its peak of £4.2bn in 2007. In the first quarter of this year casino sales in Vegas were down 12% according to Bloomberg and, crucially, resorts in the city are changing their business models accordingly.

The SLS Hotel & Casino, which originally opened in 1952 as the Sahara was re-launched in August and, according to its president, Rob Oseland, it only anticipates to get 30% of its revenue from gambling. It compares with an average of 45% across Nevada casinos today and 62% in 1984, according to the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A Grand Prix would drive further diversification.

Despite this data and the comments from Ecclestone and the source, one observer claimed that "it is completely out of character for him to talk about deals that are under discussion unless it serves his purpose to make them public."

In fact, this is precisely what happened with the latest new addition to the calendar, the Grand Prix of Europe in Azerbaijan. Ecclestone first discussed the race in the media in March before an official announcement in July. It gave him and the organisers an opportunity to test the public reaction before final terms were agreed and the deal was signed.

Nevertheless, as with any planned race, you can't be sure it will go ahead until the lights go out on track and Vegas is no exception. "Whether they are going to do it I don't know," says Ecclestone.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by GordonW, 24/10/2014 19:54

"No! NO! Bernie - NO more street circuits PLEASE. Street circuit races are almost always DULL, DULL, DULL.

And when was Azerbaijan part of Europe? It is as far East of Istanbul as Spain is West. Azerbaijan is NOT in Europe so how can it possibly host the "European Grand Prix"? (And it's ANOTHER dull street circuit). Herr Tilke had to apologise for the DULL Sochi street circuit and his Azerbaijan proposal looks like it will be just as DULL."

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2. Posted by The stogie, 23/10/2014 23:00

"I attended the second Caesar's Palace parking lot race way back in 1982. The shrieking of the motors was mesmerizing to say the least, bouncing off the walls of the original casino tower. Unfortunately, the new 'spec motor' does NOT have that sweet sound. The difference however is that today Vegas has thousands and thousands of under-utilized rooms to offer unlike back then. I doubt this race will fly as tying up the Strip for three days will probably be a non-starter."

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3. Posted by Ex F1 Official, 23/10/2014 18:52

"Not again!! Place a US on a real circuit. Bring back the Glen. I hate street races"

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