LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The “heartbeat” of November’s Formula 1 race through the Las Vegas strip is nearly 70 percent done, according to officials, while repaving and traffic questions remain on the track.
On Friday, officials presented a first look at the F1 paddock building on Koval and Harmon. Terry Miller, project manager for the design and construction of the building and circuit, said, “This is where the teams do all their magic.”
The race will begin and end at a 300,000-square-foot building, equivalent to the length of three football fields.
According to Miller, the ground level consists of several pit garages, currently the largest in the F1 franchise. An anticipated 20 racing cars will be assembled here, per F1 standards, when drivers arrive days before the event. Garage doors on both ends provide car access to either side of the building.
“This is where the drivers are basically anticipating what they’re going to be doing out of the circuit, and then come out on the circuit to do it,” Miller said in the construction zone Friday morning.
Outside, officials anticipate the installation of grandstands for 18,000 people in August. According to Miller, a space behind the grandstands will house retail and concessions areas.
However, those who secure a ticket can get those goods in one of two club levels. Suites will be individually designed on the second and third floors for brands’ “high-end clients,” according to Miller. These levels include kitchens and balconies overlooking the paddock area of the track.
The rooftop will also be a ticketed area, where other hospitality suites will sit under 17.5-foot-tall beams that will eventually hold LED screens measuring 28,000 square feet in length. Large video screens measuring 17.5 feet by 55 feet will be installed in September for those in the grandstands below to watch the race.
While Miller says there are months of work ahead to complete the building, he also acknowledges the work needed on the circuit, which partially encompasses the Las Vegas Strip.
For months, crews have dug up asphalt six to 10 inches into the floor of the racing route. It’s led to traffic congestion up, down, and around Las Vegas Boulevard. It took 8 News Now 40 minutes to drive roughly a mile through the construction zone full of lane closures and cars trying to squeeze onto the busy street.
Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm says she’s experienced the traffic and calls it “frustrating.”
“This has been logistically complicated beyond compare,” Wilm said after a Friday morning tour of the paddock building. “We have a number of changes throughout the last year to really accommodate those concerns that were raised by (Clark County commissioners’) constituents.”
But, both Wilm and Miller say this amount of construction will not be necessary in the coming years, as Clark County has designated F1 as an annual event for the next decade.
“There certainly will be patchworks and repairs that need to be done from time to time, but the bulk of this work – which was the rolling closures, the extensive milling of the asphalt, the laying of the initial layers – that is because the track is brand new,” Wilm said.
“Once we go in and do this circuit, that’s a density that can last with our typical traffic that you and I drive every day but still meets the criteria for an F1 racetrack,” Miller said. He anticipates the current work to sustain for six to 10 years.
Miller calls the foreseeable work for 2023’s race “a full summer here of disruptions,” adding that hundreds of feet of traffic bridges will be installed above the circuit at three locations to serve the guests of 23,000 hotel rooms isolated within the track.
“This is the number one entertainment destination of the world, and we can’t ignore the fact that we are a disruption to their business and to the customers coming and going,” Miller said. “There’ll still be disruptions that happen, but not nearly as significant as we’re having this year.”
Finally, the cost: how much money is needed to dig up and repave nearly four miles of publicly owned roads? When asked, Miller declined to comment.
Wilm says an amount has yet to be established, though construction work is underway.
“We really haven’t finished modeling it yet. We’re building the plane as we’re flying it, and we’re looking at every cost efficiency that we can, but it is a massive undertaking,” Wilm said.
Clark County Commissioners are expected to enter into a public-private partnership with F1 next week when they consider a resolution at their Tuesday board meeting. If passed, a county spokesperson told 8 News Now that it would allow the county “to negotiate with the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix” for how much of tax-payer dollars will be used to afford the paving.
The only insight into the price tag comes from a March Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority meeting, where President Steve Hill said F1 asked them for roughly $37 million to cover the total cost. Hill said, at the time, that amount “is less than half of what the cost of the entire circuit would be.”
“We are activating the entire town in a way that’s never been done before, and we really think at the end of the day, and hope, that everyone will agree with us that it was worth it,” Wilm said. “We want everybody in the community to know we are here to stay.”
The final tickets for the event go on sale next week, with American Express presale on Wednesday and tickets for the general public available on Friday. Wilm said there is “not a ton of inventory left.”