The countdown is on for the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix in November, the first race of its kind to take place in the city since 1982. An event this big requires some big changes, and not all of those changes have been easy to accomplish.
The most extensive work, and perhaps the most intrusive, has been the repaving along the Las Vegas Strip. Crews have been working to prepare roads for the race since April and still aren’t done.
Scripps News Las Vegas reported major traffic delays and disruption throughout the multimillion-dollar, monthslong repaving project, leading to frustration from tourists and locals alike.
Las Vegas resident and tourism expert Jennifer Gay, known on social media as VegasStarfish, said more communication from officials might have helped with the construction chaos.
“The single most valuable thing the city could have done is to partner with strong social media creators, of which there are many, to provide information through the entire process to the incoming tourists and locals,” said Gay. “They haven’t and now we have a situation where every day is a new bag of surprises and a lot of them have been jarring or stressful.”
It wasn’t until last week that Clark County and Formula 1 officials launched an SMS text system that people could opt into for updates on scheduled road closures.
Like in all Formula 1 races, the centerpiece will be the paddock building. The $500 million and 300,000-square-foot site will house garages and bays for the cars in addition to a rooftop viewing area and VIP suites. It's also where the race will begin and end.
Organizers expect the massive structure to be completed in October, with the grand opening to happen at the start of the race events on Nov. 16.
CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix Renee Wilm told Scripps News Vegas earlier this year that the building will still be used after the race for other events.
However, the building could be getting a name change, as some community members pointed out the name “paddock” could be wrongly associated with the name of the gunman who killed dozens and injured hundreds in a 2017 mass shooting at a country music concert in the city.
In addition to the constant paving, crews are now working to build grandstands, add lighting, place track barriers and build vehicle bridges in areas of The Strip.
The most dramatic changes have been in front of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.
Workers cut down all of the trees that once lined the sidewalk in front of the iconic Bellagio Fountain. Now, the entire walkway has been closed off – meaning there is no easy access to see the fountains.
“The heart of the strip has always been the Bellagio fountains. Having it entirely blocked off after losing all of the beautiful, mature trees was an incredible loss,” Gay said. “Conversely, seeing the stands go up is creating some anticipation for what will be an exciting event.”
According to MGM Resorts International, it's part of their "efforts to provide the best possible experience through improved visibility, mobility and pedestrian access and safety."
Tourists Karen and Brian Ritter traveled to Las Vegas from Pittsburgh last weekend for an NFL game. Karen told Scripps News Las Vegas she wished officials would have waited later to start the changes by the Bellagio.
"Everything is shut down right here and you're looking over there and all you see is metal everywhere and you see orange pylons all over the place," said Karen. "It's kind of not what Vegas is about. You come here for glamor and this is a mess."
Even with all the disarray, Gay said visitors shouldn’t cancel their trips to Sin City.
“This is a wildly chaotic time, but it’s a unique look at an iconic city as it’s evolving,” she said. “There will always be so many things to do and see here that losing a few won’t change your experience dramatically. Part of what makes Vegas the greatest city in the world to visit or vacation in, is that it’s never the same twice.”
According to an economic impact study done by Applied Analysis, the Las Vegas Grand Prix is expected to bring in almost $1.3 billion when it takes place from Nov. 16 through Nov. 18. That’s over double the amount of expected revenue for the Super Bowl in February 2024 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
“I am excited about being part of something new and exciting and seeing a city that I deeply love be on the world’s stage,” Gay said. “The revenue and attention are definitely exciting too, but at the end of the day this is another incredible line item to go on the resume of a city where you can do and see it all.”
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