F1 accused of extortion over Las Vegas track view demands


In an extraordinary move, F1 is seeking millions from clubs and restaurants that have a view of the Las Vegas circuit.

"Las Vegas Grand Prix will use reasonable efforts to maintain sightedness from licensee's venue to the track/race," reads a letter sent to businesses such as Planet Hollywood and Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer, which are alongside the circuit, by F1.

"The license fee will equal the maximum occupancy of licensee's venue (per fire code) multiplied by $1,500 (1,200)," venues were warned.

The move, which is hardly likely to go down well with local businesses, and could lead to similar moves at other street tracks should they get away with it, could explain why Liberty Media CEO, Greg Maffei made the extraordinary claim that the Las Vegas race will add $500m (388m) in revenue to the sport's coffers.

"They are literally shaking people down saying they will obstruct views unless they pay them," one casino owner told the New York Post. "It seems insane that they are asking money for a public event that is taking place in the streets."

According to the Post for "a restaurant or club with 1,500 seats, the tab would soar to a whopping $2.25m (1.75m), regardless of how many guests can catch views from their roof decks, terraces and dining areas".

"There is a certain line they are crossing (by) telling someone who has spent billions on their property that you are shutting the Strip down for construction and then asking them to pay for seat," the Post quotes a source as saying. "They are trying to limit people's ability to capitalize on the race."

A number of the big casinos have been part of the project from the outset and already have some pretty impressive - and equally expensive - deals in place, not least the $5m (3.9m) 'Emperor Package' from Caesars Entertainment, now it would seem that others are to be prevented from getting in on the act unless they pay up.

Indeed, in a move that evokes memories of the city's 'previous management', it has been suggested that screens could be placed outside venues that don't pay up, thereby preventing those inside from seeing the track, it is even alleged that Renee Wilm, Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO and Liberty Media's chief legal officer, has suggested shining lights into non-paying venues in order to block the view.

This would be equivalent to telling the owners of the thousands of apartments that overlook the Monaco track that they must pay a fee, a move that would cast doubt on the future of the event.

"There is a real chance of obstructing views with stands and barricades," the source tells the Post. "I know the hotels are upset about it and they are trying to figure out if they'll play along."

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Published: 25/07/2023
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