New threat to Miami GP?


Ever since Liberty Media bought F1 in early 2017, the company has made no secret of its desire to expand the sport in its own backyard.

Over the years American fans have been badly treated, and while there was a period when the East and West coasts held rounds of the world championship, let's not forget the car park in Las Vegas, Detroit or the shambles that was Indianapolis 2005.

While the Circuit of the Americas now plays host to America's round of the world championship, Bernie Ecclestone's efforts to take F1 to New York City fell by the wayside, as have recent efforts to head back to Vegas.

However, last month's vote by Miami's City Commissioners appeared to buck the trend, Liberty subsequently entering discussions to hold a race in the city as early as 2019.

"I don't know if there's a city on the planet that aligns with our brand more than Miami," said F1's commercial boss Sean Bratches in reaction to the vote. "We're both about celebrity, about glamour, about fashion, we're about art, we're about digital, technology. We both have great sporting histories, so we think it's a good brand alignment.

"We received unanimous approval," he added, "both in the city and the county, Miami Dade County level, and what that really means is that it gives the City Manager the authority to enter into negotiations with us. So we've got some wood to chop but we're encouraged and we want to work with the City, the Port Authority and the relevant constituents to make sure we put on an event that works for everyone."

"I think the Miami race is going to be great," added an equally enthusiastic Liberty boss Greg Maffei, according to Forbes. "In city races are fun. In city races are exciting. Miami is absolutely the right kind of venue and the right kind of city. International, a great story around the sea and sand. So there will be a lot of good stuff. A hell of a party. Formula One is about selling glamour and parties."

Well, without wishing to spoil the party, according to Forbes opponents of the race are looking to deal the event a major body blow.

At the time of the City Commissioners vote a map of the proposed track layout was issued. According to the plan, the 2.6 mile track would run down Biscayne Boulevard just yards from the legendary Miami seafront famous the world over. The track subsequently winds around the AmericanAirlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat NBA team.

Behind the arena however, lies a three-acre patch of scrubland, known as Parcel B, which as well as offering a nice view of the ocean has been the source of heated debate for over 20 years.

In 1997, the Heat promised to turn the patch of land into a football field in as bid to win voter approval for the arena. The soccer field didn't happen and instead the land is used for overflow parking and a staging area for events at the arena.

In 2017, following years of campaigning by parks activists and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, whose district includes the land, it was reported that Miami-Dade Country, which owns the land, was seeking to turn it into a park.

Then came news of the Grand Prix.

Now, sources have told Forbes that local groups are seeking to prevent the track running through Parcel B, which essentially means a whole new track layout.

According to one source, it "looks like locals have managed to deny the use of the parcel of land behind the Arena for the F1 race. The area has been a sore spot since they built the Arena as the Miami Heat basketball team promised to build a park there and have yet to deliver on their promise".

This new threat to the event follows the admission by Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo that he fully expect a number of lawsuits in view of the disruption the race would cause to the city. "We're going to end up being sued and I'm going to tell you that they're probably going to win suits," he told Autosport.

Chloe Targett-Adams, F1's global director of promoter and business relations, recently attended a meeting with the Biscayne Neighborhoods Association and the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, flyers for the event claiming that it would give them give them the opportunity to hear "how would F1 affect traffic, downtown spaces, and residents' quality of life? Do the benefits justify any complications? Hear from F1 representatives and elected officials".

While a source told Forbes that "most were appeased" by what they heard, residents are still demanding the re-routing of the track layout.

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Published: 20/06/2018
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