Formula One racing will make its debut in Miami next year and the organisers of the race are hoping to create an experience like no other.
The track, which is currently under construction, will be located on land around the Hard Rock stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins NFL team. The race is scheduled for May 8 and the president and CEO of the Dolphins, Tom Garfinkel, is hoping to make use of the unusual venue to host a grand prix like no other.
“We’ll have more to roll out in the coming months, but what we are trying to do is create an environment that has multiple products and experiences,” Garfinkel told ESPN. “We’ll have traditional grandstands and we’ll have a Paddock Club, but we’re going to create a lot of hospitality experiences to go along with that.
“Ultimately, we want almost a campus environment where, on Friday, Saturday and even race day, people can get around different parts of the race track and experience different things, see different corners.
“With the stadium being at the centre of the race track, you can walk around the top of the stadium and really see every corner of the race track. I think that’s pretty unique in and of itself and I think we have some infrastructure in place that we can use to provide good hospitality and good experience and we are trying to be as creative as we can be.”
The Miami Grand Prix is targeting an attendance figure of 80,000 in the first year, although Garfinkel says there is the possibility to expand that number over the course of the 10-year deal.
“[For the first year] we want to keep it smaller, more intimate and deliver a great experience to those that come,” he said. “We’d probably have demand for twice that and we have room to add more grandstands and do more things, but I want to start at a smaller number, deliver a great experience and then expand over time.”
F1 had been working on bringing a race to Miami for a number of years and originally hoped to race around the Biscayne Bay and Bayfront Park area as early as 2019 before local opposition blocked the idea. Working alongside the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, F1 then targeted a race on the land around the Hard Rock Stadium, but still faced opposition from local residents and politicians.
City councilors finally voted in favor of the idea earlier this year after a benefits package for the Miami Gardens area was included as part of the deal. An allotment of discounted tickets will be set aside for Miami Gardens residents and a $5 million support programme for local businesses and the community was agreed, including a STEM education programme for local schools.
Garfinkel hopes the benefits package will leave a legacy in F1 that connects local residents directly with the sport.
“We have had discussions with a couple of the teams and the driver representatives on a STEM project in Miami Gardens,” he added. “Ideally, we’d like to see an environment where there are kids locally in Miami Gardens near our race track that are, years from now, engineering a Formula One car or working in a marketing department at a Formula One team.
“Of course, we’d love to see drivers and all that, but there are so many other jobs — someone could be working for ESPN in Formula One if they grew up near the Miami Grand Prix and fell in love with the sport, for example. We’d love to see this turn into that and that’s what we’re working towards.”