F1 confident Las Vegas GP “will make a lot of money”, says Liberty chief

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei expects “very good return” on US$500m+ investment.

F1 confident Las Vegas GP “will make a lot of money”, says Liberty chief

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  • Setup costs have already exceeded US$500m
  • F1 needs to be “long-term greedy” with Las Vegas GP
  • More general admission tickets to be available in future, says Las Vegas GP CEO Renee Wilm

Greg Maffei, chief executive of Liberty Media, is confident the Las Vegas Grand Prix “will make a lot of money” for Formula One. 

Debuting in November this year, Formula One has taken the unusual step of promoting the event itself. This has also required significant capital expenditure from the series, including a US$240 million outlay on a 39-acre site to finalise the circuit design and create capacity for the pit and paddock facilities.

Steve Sisolak, governor of Nevada, has previously revealed that he expects setup costs to pass US$500 million by the time the race is staged in November, so the series will likely lose money on this first event.

Earlier this year, county officials approved a plan to shut the Las Vegas Strip for Formula One racing until at least 2032, so there are high hopes that the race can cement itself on the calendar.

Speaking at on a recent investor call, Maffei said said the series should have a goal to be “long-term greedy”, with a focus on getting the experience right for stakeholders at the first race.

This is perhaps in reference to the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, where many sponsors were left underwhelmed by the hospitality experience.

“We’re going to have a high revenue stream, (and) we’re going to have a high cost stream, but it’s more important that we have a great experience for everybody involved in the first year,” continued Maffei.

“I think we will make a lot of money in Vegas over the long term. I’m very excited. I think we will make good money this year. But way more important than that is that we have a great experience, for our drivers, for our patrons, for our fans, for our viewers, for everybody involved. That’s the goal.”

Maffei expects a “very good return” on the US$500 million already invested into the race.

This has formed part of Formula One's increased focus on the US, which has led to the country now hosting three races per season.

Renee Wilm, chief executive of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, has no worries over the races cannibalising each other in any way.

“We’re talking about sharing resources. We’re talking about how we can leverage each other’s activations in terms of what’s working and what’s not,” Wilm told The Athletic.

“We do believe that rising water raises all ships. That’s the intention, not to galvanise or cannibalse someone else to build something in Vegas.”

Wilm has also acknowledged the inaccessibility of the event, with general admission prices having started at US$500.

“We want to create just the most incredible fan experience we can and also create a great track for the drivers,” said Wilm, as reported by RaceFans.net.

“We want our team principals happy, really trying to create the best event throughout the ecosystem – but I’m sure we won’t get everything right in year one and we’re going to take those learnings and we’re going to improve upon the event in year two and beyond.

“Early feedback is we need more general admission – our fans are not happy we don’t have more general admission. That is something that we’re going to address in follow-on years. But I think at this point all we can do is head down, work hard and look forward to what’s to come.”