LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The spectacle of Formula One is taking shape along the Las Vegas Strip, but through it all, some logistics and financing decisions have seemingly come at the last minute.
The disruptions have left the question on the minds of drivers, Strip workers and tourists: will it all be worth it?
Clark County Commission Chair Jim Gibson acknowledged there was a ticking timeline for the Las Vegas Grand Prix from the start.
“Did it happen too quickly?” Politics Now Anchor John Langeler asked.
“By any standard, it happened way quickly,” Gibson responded inside the 8 News Now studios Tuesday morning. “Once we got into it, it was obvious that the race was going to be a real challenge for us and the entire community.”
Gibson told 8 News Now it will be at least two years before he can say the investment was worth the disruptions that it brought to Las Vegas.
Those challenges began to span miles in length when repaving began on nearly four miles of public road in April, which halted traffic amidst rolling lane closures and blocked intersections along the Las Vegas Strip. Months later, F1 has yet to announce the official transportation plan for employees who are scheduled to work inside the circuit, which isolates 23,000 hotel rooms from the outside.
A deal with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) was signed before finances were in order, which became apparent when the racing giant asked the county to pay half of its $80 million repaving project after that construction had started. LVCVA has committed to providing police, fire and volunteer services through the deal, which CEO and President Steve Hill expects to extend into a 10-year deal to match Clark County Commission’s acknowledgment of the race returning annually for a decade.
Just two weeks away from the green flag being dropped, Gibson said those negotiations have now paused.
“Is it okay for Clark County to basically let the race happen and sort out who’s going to pay for it months from now?” Langler asked.
“It’s okay with us,” Gibson said. “At the end of the day, Formula One has made a commitment. They didn’t pack up and leave when we said, ‘We’re going to pause this.’ They understand that this race is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than they are.”
In defending the project, the commission chair points to money the county is expected to receive: $100 million in taxes that he says may benefit sectors like education and healthcare, along with an expected $1.3 billion in spending that he said “stays right here” in the valley. He added that around 7,700 jobs with a payroll of $360 million have been created or activated for the race.
“That is all a benefit to us, so it has not all been sacrifice. A lot of sacrifice, but not all,” Gibson said.
When asked if he believes the disruptions will be “worth it,” the commission chair said, “I think we need a couple of years to level out. This year has been very disruptive.”
Public roads that make up the F1 circuit will be closed to the public starting at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16 until 2 a.m. the following day each day through Saturday, Nov. 18.