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Clark County learns lessons from first spin in decades around Las Vegas Grand Prix track 

(Credit: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images for Heineken)

Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
March 20, 2024

The Las Vegas Grand Prix generated close to $1.5 billion in overall economic impacts, but not without significant costs to residents and government workers, according to a debriefing presented Tuesday to the Clark County Commission. 

The county estimated visitor spending on the Formula 1 event in late November amounted to $884 million. The average Grand Prix visitor spent four nights in Las Vegas and spent $4,100, or 3.6 times the typical visitor, excluding the price of a race ticket.  

The direct economic impact of the event, excluding land costs and out-of-market purchases, totaled $329 million. The race generated $77 Million in Tax Revenues for State and Local Governments, but Clark County’s report noted it did not share in much of the revenue, given the state’s tax structure. 

“The County Does NOT Receive a Direct Financial Benefit Proportionate to the Tourism Events held in the County,” the report said. “Tourism generates a variety of tax revenues to state and local governments, yet the County receives a small fraction of these revenues.”

The County received 2% of the 13.38% room tax revenue generated by the race and 2.25% of the 8.375% sales tax. 

“We know that this is good for media hits. It’s good for all these people to put heads in beds and all those other things but at the end of the day, my colleagues in the other entities have no skin in the game, they reap the benefits and we’re upside down,” Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.  

Kirkpatrick also acknowledged the toll on county employees, who worked overtime and odd hours preparing for the event. “All the money in the world doesn’t cover that cost,” she said. 

Clark County staff spent more than 17,000 hours preparing for the race, excluding partner agencies such as Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, the Las Vegas Valley Water District, the Southern Nevada Health District, and the Regional Transportation Commission. 

Almost 90% of staff costs were covered by licenses, fees and permits. 

The race was the “largest sporting event in Las Vegas history” the firm Applied Analysis wrote in the report, with the biggest global audience. But the sheer size resulted in a number of unexpected and potentially hazardous developments. 

  • Lack of advance notice of general aviation traffic led to operational issues at area airports 
  • Last minute decisions or changes in planning by LVGP fireworks and drones also complicated operations at airports
  • Construction of the three-story, 300,000 square foot pit building began before permits were issued, creating “unrealistic expectations for plan review timelines and feedback from other developers.” The county issued a temporary certificate of occupancy for the building before it was complete. A permanent certificate had not been issued as of early March. 
  • The County Building Department made “exceptional efforts to ensure there were no delays to other customers, which led to staff burnout.” 
  • The County grappled with last minute design changes, such as a request for an unpermitted cooking area in an unused garage for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. It was not allowed.
  • Business license applications were submitted late for many of the 56 applicants, causing delays or requiring staff to work overtime. 
  • Las Vegas Grand Prix had “no consistent representation” present in the Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC), resulting in communication delays. 
  • The Clark County Fire Dept. was “unable to keep up” with inspections of construction of the Pit Building and Grand Prix set up structure. Credentialing expectations were “not in line” with the department’s labor contracts.  
  • Fire lanes need to be better marked and maintained. Numerous incidents of improper storage and egress impediments occurred. Generators, propane tanks, and space heaters were used without permitting.
  • Racks, tires, propane tanks, fencing and lifts blocked fire department access and could have caused delays in the event of an evacuation.
  • Race officials were not present for meetings. 
  • Contractors installed barriers at the last minute, trapping pedestrians on escalators. 
  • Pedestrian egress on the final night of the race was “overwhelmed beyond capacity.” 
  • Dismantling the course was delayed, as were traffic signal adjustments, 

The County report made a number of recommendations for upcoming race weekends, including the creation of a high-impact special events process and a June 16 deadline this year for relevant applications.

Business owner Randy Markin, who says his restaurant lost millions of dollars because of a temporary bridge erected on Flamingo Road, noted the public is entitled to use of roadways, and asked the Commission not to “hand over what belongs to all of us… Let F1 know we are driving the car. Our town is not for sale.”

Markin and others have asked F1 to compensate them for their losses, but their requests have been rejected. 

Commission Chairman Tick Segerblom suggested “there has to be a way” to compensate businesses that lost money because of structures erected to facilitate the race.   

“How can we be made whole so that businesses don’t feel the same impact again?” asked Stage Door Casino owner Tanya Markin, who likened F1 to “a frat party of rich kids who come in and have their big party and leave a mess.”

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This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.