What will Formula 1 “leave behind” in Downtown Miami if a 10-year contract agreement is signed to have Grand Prix racing through our city streets?
Residents met with local officials and Formula 1 representatives Tuesday evening to discuss proposed plans. The lively, sometimes heated, sometimes comical, town hall was organized by the Downtown Neighbors Alliance and Biscayne Neighborhoods Association, and hosted at the Vizcayne Condominiums.
The meeting started with Mayor Suarez briefly presenting some of the benefits to the City of Miami, including potential economic impact. He noted that Formula 1’s economic benefit to Austin, Texas, is an estimated $700 million per year; while Montreal sees approximately $45 – 50 million annually.
It was also noted that the addition of Formula 1 racing in Miami would make us the only city in the United States to host 5 major sporting events, and that televised broadcasts of the races brings international exposure.
City Commissioner Ken Russell said he is “cautiously optimistic” by the negotiations with the Formula 1 team so far. When asked why, then, he chose not to sponsor the resolution that was passed unanimously on May 10, he replied, “My job will be to represent you”. His seat, District 2, encompasses the proposed track (from NE 3 Street to NE 8th Street along Biscayne Boulevard and across the bridge to PortMiami) as well as all of the urban residential neighborhoods directly affected.
Traffic and Noise
Chloe Taggert-Adams, Director of Promoter and Business Relations for Formula 1, and Richard Cregan, F1 MotorSport Technical Consultant, were patient and polished answering questions from downtown residents about the effects Formula 1 races will have on our quality of life.
The top two concerns seemed to be noise and traffic disruptions. Cregan informed us that the set-up process would begin approximately 3 months before the races, and would require 2 to 3 weeks to tear-down afterward. So downtown Miami residents are looking at four months just for Formula 1. The pre-race work would include replacing our traffic lights with a system that can be easily removed/reinstalled for the races, resurfacing the roads to meet Formula 1’s strict safety standards, installing barrier systems, and setting up bleachers. Cregan said that most of the work would be done at night… something that residents were not at all happy to hear.
Appropriate to the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, Cregan was asked what provisions Formula 1 is making in the event of a hurricane affecting Miami. He touted their experience with typhoons in Japan, and assured us that they would be following Miami-Dade’s stringent building codes and that all contractors hired would be locally experienced. Hopefully, they won’t be the same contractors who installed the construction cranes that toppled during Hurricane Irene.
No Annual Fee
One point Mayor Suarez made is that Miami will not be paying any hosting fee. While hosting fees paid by other cities are secret, F1 journalist Christian Sylt writing for Forbes Magazine, estimates hosting fees to be nearly $49 million over 10 years. On the other hand, the City of Miami will be expected to contribute funds for security, waste disposal, track preparation and other expenses. Apparently, our contribution to these costs will be capped, but we were not told what that cap will be, nor whether the county or other Miami municipalities (like Miami Beach) will be sharing the costs since they will be sharing the benefits.
Formula 1 Leave Behinds
Taggert-Adams repeatedly stressed Formula 1’s desire to be a benefit to Miami, and to leave the Central Business District in better condition than before. She mentioned a children’s park built by Formula 1 in another city, but no specifics for downtown Miami.
Parcel B has been removed from track discussions. Race representatives are still negotiating with PortMiami authorities about their inclusion in the race track. Representatives from Bayside Marketplace will be included in negotiations to minimize disruption to their businesses. And input from local residents in needed. Formula 1 is hoping to have a contract signed with Miami by the first week of July. This means that our window of opportunity to make our concerns know is very very short.
Whether you support the idea of Formula 1 street racing in downtown Miami or not, your input on how to minimize adverse effects on our quality of life is valuable. Please comment below and I will forward to DNA President, Cristina Palomo.