Hard Rock Stadium has been lined up to host a second US race on the Formula One calendar after an agreement in principle was reached to take the motor-racing series to Miami.
The agreement was announced on Tuesday evening in a joint statement from Tom Garfinkel, chief executive of the Miami Dolphins, the NFL American football franchise that calls Hard Rock Stadium home, and Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations for Formula One. If sealed, the deal will reportedly see F1 debut in Miami in May 2021.
Garfinkel and Bratches said in the statement: “We are thrilled to announce that Formula One and Hard Rock Stadium have reached an agreement in principle to host the first-ever Formula One Miami Grand Prix at Hard Rock Stadium.
“With an estimated annual impact of more than $400m (£314.9m/€362.4m) and 35,000 room nights, the Formula One Miami Grand Prix will be an economic juggernaut for South Florida each and every year.
“We are deeply grateful to our fans, elected officials and the local tourism industry for their patience and support throughout this process. We look forward to bringing the greatest racing spectacle on the planet for the first time to one of the world’s most iconic and glamorous regions.”
Tuesday’s announcement was the latest development in long-running efforts to bring F1 to the Florida city. In April, it was reported that Hard Rock Stadium had been put forward as the new potential home of a Formula One race in Miami, with the championship and stakeholders behind the project seemingly deciding to drop long-held plans to develop a street circuit in the downtown area of the city.
Formula One and Stephen Ross were said to have mutually agreed to end the street circuit vision after deciding that disruption to local businesses and residents would be too great. Ross, owner of the Dolphins and its Hard Rock Stadium home, is one of the backers of the Miami F1 effort.
In May 2018, the downtown street circuit proposal received the unanimous support of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee. However, bureaucratic red-tape stymied plans to add Miami to the current 2019 calendar, with Miami also failing to make next season’s schedule.
Hard Rock Stadium has received renovations worth around $700m in recent years in an effort to transform it into a multi-sport venue. The stadium hosted leading tennis tournament the Miami Open for the first time from March 18-31 as part of a long-term deal that has relocated the event from the Crandon Park facility in Key Biscayne.
However, despite Tuesday’s announcement, the conclusion of a deal is far from a formality. The Miami Herald newspaper said Ross has agreed to cover all race costs, including the development of a $40m custom racetrack that would run predominantly on the grounds of Hard Rock Stadium, therefore making the grand prix eligible for a marquee-event grant through a 2014 agreement with the county.
Opposition to the project has come from Miami Gardens residents, along with Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes Hard Rock Stadium, and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who is running to replace her.
The Herald said Jordan has proposed legislation to require a commission vote before Formula One could win approval from Miami-Dade County for the temporary closure of part of streets during race weekend. A decision on the legislation could come this month.
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas has hosted the United States Grand Prix since 2012 and F1 has long been attempting to add a second US race to the calendar.
Images: F1 Miami