Formula One racing is already cruising a fast track to bring a high-octane Grand Prix to downtown Miami by 2019. The city commission voted last week to begin negotiating with the international race organization to hash out the details. Now Miami-Dade County will weigh in on the idea, which has drawn opposition from a conservative political action committee and downtown residents already fed up with loud events at Bayfront Park.
The county commission is set to vote Thursday on whether to authorize Mayor Carlos Gimenez to join in the negotiations with Formula One. The resolution from Commissioners Sally Heyman and Jose "Pepe" Diaz notes a Grand Prix is "one of the world's most powerful tourism advertisements for the city hosting the race."
The City of Miami is already all-in on the idea, with commissioners voting last Thursday to let City Manager Emilio Gonzalez negotiate with the international race giant, which runs races directly through city streets instead of on a NASCAR-style loop.
Formula One has already shared a preliminary plan for how the race might look in downtown Miami, with a course looping around the American Airlines Arena and across to PortMiami:
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The plan, unsurprisingly, isn't universally beloved by residents of downtown condo buildings, who have been waging war in recent years against the nearby club district and the big music festivals in Bayfront Park over noise levels in the neighborhood.
"Past races such as the Formula E held in 2015 have presented many problems, among them security issues, lengthy traffic disruptions, street closures, and total disruption of pedestrian access to parks and even crosswalks during long setup and teardown periods," Cristina Palomo, president of the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, told the Miami Herald last week.
But the race's supporters on the county commission point to the economic impact of the races. Heyman and Diaz say the only other U.S.-based Grand Prix, held in Austin, Texas, generated $2.8 billion for local businesses over three years and tripled the bookings for area hotels during the race season. Mexico City saw a $350 million boost from a 2016 race there, they say.
The resolution would direct Gimenez to either finalize an agreement or provide a written update on negotiations by July 1.