Las Vegas Grand Prix no boon for businesses


Mixed feelings about first F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix Image: Formula 1

Despite some of the biggest businesses touting a successful Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend, many owners of small businesses near the Strip in Nevada (US) have mixed feelings.

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ stated that the Management at Jjanga Sushi and Oyster Bar, located just outside the racetrack on Flamingo Road near Koval Lane, said they were significantly impacted by the road closures and construction-related traffic in the months leading up to the race. They still prepared for big crowds last weekend by increasing staffing, creating new menus and shifting operations to align with the event times.

London (UK)-based Formula One is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. The FIA Formula One World Championship has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is a motor racing event that forms part of the Formula One World Championship, taking place in Paradise, Nevada, in the United States, on a temporary street circuit including parts of the Las Vegas Strip. The first race was held on November 18th, 2023.

Lined with upscale casino hotels, the neon-soaked Strip is quintessential Las Vegas. As well as gambling floors, the vast hotel complexes house a variety of shops, restaurants (ranging from mainstream to high-end) and performance venues for music, comedy and circus-style acts. Attractions like the soaring, choreographed Fountains of Bellagio and the High Roller observation wheel draw crowds.

Maintained Mike Shoro, Manager, “But the reality of the weekend did not match our expectations. We had issues with people parking in our shared plaza lot and then walking to F1, choosing not to frequent our business or one of our neighbors. It is what it is.”

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ further stated that the F1 race was touted as an economic boom to the City during a typically slow weekend before Thanksgiving. Race and the Clark County leaders said the weekend would generate about $1.2 billion in economic impact for the area, with roughly 315,000 fans in attendance. But some small-business owners say their books didn’t show a boost. Others said the road closures hurt business.

Amanda Reber, a Shift Supervisor for the Strip Liquor store, called the weekend a “bust”, even though the store sits in the Gold Key Shops just North of Wynn Las Vegas and within walking distance of the racetrack.

The reason for the disappointment was that much of the business for Strip Liquor comes from tourists walking in, and the only customers the store drew were its regulars.

Added Reber, “We didn’t see any of the revenue that was brought for Formula One. They talked a big game, but we didn’t see any of it.”

At Yama Sushi in the same plaza, General Manager Jillian Kwon said the daily sales were down 70 to 80 percent when compared to other weekends in November. She suspected road closures and a lack of middle-class clientele were to blame.

Kwon said she thinks concentrating the F1 venues to a select number of hotels and other locations limits the economic impact of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and isn’t fair to the smaller businesses around the Strip.

Commented Kwon, “There was big money, but only a few hotels got to benefit. The few hotels that host are the venue (for the Las Vegas Grand Prix), not Las Vegas.”

Amanda Signorelli, Co-owner of Golden Steer Steakhouse, said the old Vegas icon on Sahara Avenue did better than the same weekend last year, but it wasn’t a “gangbusters” weekend. The restaurant handled about 350 to 400 covers per night.

Added Signorelli, “We had hoped we’d see buyouts or longer events, but we were mostly surprised at how lukewarm it was for our business.”

Like some other business leaders, Signorelli said this was a learning year. The race’s novelty cast wide expectations, but now business managers can better anticipate how they should handle future events.

For the Golden Steer, Signorelli said she thought the two-mile distance between the steakhouse and the race circuit contributed to this year’s results. In the future, she said the marketing team will try to sell earlier dinners to private parties and creative options like chef’s tables.

Stated Signorelli, “It was a lot of learning for us. It was a lot of things that came together in the nick of time. Next year we want to be a guide, rather than a taker of reservations or a taker of private parties.”

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