LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The leader of several productions on the Las Vegas Strip wrote an open letter to push for logistical changes to the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix to help fans and local businesses—most notably, moving the start time up earlier.
Ross Mollison, Impresario Extraordinaire of Spiegelworld, drafted a letter that has been seen by resort and casino leaders from the Strip to Downtown Las Vegas. He tells FOX5 his shows—Absinthe, Atomic Saloon and Opium—lost a total of $500,000 during the week of F1 when they went “dark” due to the race—but he wants it known that he’s a major F1 fan.
“I love this event. However, can we please take into account all the businesses in Vegas, including hospitality and live entertainment, when making decisions for next year? Either way, I guarantee I will be there cheering it on. I would just prefer not to be sitting in a seat that cost me $0.5m. Go Lewis!” Mollison writes in the letter.
Mollison tells FOX5 that the late start time hurt both fans and local businesses. Fans sat in grandstands in the cold night temperatures for hours, and tourists and families did not have the opportunity to take in the nightlife on the Las Vegas Strip, which includes restaurants, shows, and other attractions.
Those same businesses saw soft profits or none at all, Mollison said. Numerous other shows canceled performances or had very little audience attendance.
“It’s not just live entertainment that I think was really hit hard. A lot of restaurants were really hit hard,” he said. “Our sales have bounced back from the week that was F1, which was really, really tough for us. But I’m still in a post F1 glow, because I’m an enormous Formula One fan,” he said.
FOX5 has heard from restaurants who said they expected crowds, but instead, saw low profits.
Mollison’s key proposal: a 3 p.m. start time.
“If the race started at like three, it would end at sunset and into the night because it gets dark 4:15 or 4:30 at that time of the year. We could easily finish the race in the dark,” Mollison said. “The casinos are going to make more money because everybody’s going gaming and all restaurants are going to be jammed,” he said.
Mollison said various resort property leaders have agreed with the suggestions.
The late start time has caused angst for race teams and drivers, who raised complaints over grip issues with the cold track temperatures. Some drivers attributed crashes to those problems.
An earlier start time would also assist with boosting American viewership. The 10 p.m. PST start time was a 1 a.m. start time for East Coast viewers, lowering the chances for more Americans to watch.
FOX5 has asked for a response from F1 and is waiting to hear back.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reports success from the race with an expected $35 million in entertainment tax revenue. Officials did say local leaders have been given a private survey to ask what could be better next year.
Chair Jim Gibson, in remarks before the Clark County Commission, said that a county report is forthcoming to look at changes to F1 to help the community.
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