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F1’s Hard Rock Stadium race plan hit by Miami-Dade vote

Formula One’s long-running effort to bring a grand prix to the streets of Miami has been dealt a fresh blow after the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners voted to put the plans on hold.

Commissioners yesterday (Tuesday) voted on a plan revealed earlier this month for a street circuit to be developed around Hard Rock Stadium, home of NFL American football franchise the Miami Dolphins.

Miami-Dade County yesterday voted 7-6 against the proposal after Miami Gardens City Council also rejected the plan last week. Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan said there has been widespread opposition to the plan among her constituents, who are concerned about issues such as noise, traffic and pollution. “It’s not a handful, and it’s not just a small group, but you’re talking about a community, a bedroom community, that cares about what happens in the community,” she said, according to local broadcaster WSVN.

While the vote does not kill the proposed deal, it means that the Commission requires any planned road closure for F1 in Miami Gardens’ stadium district, and potentially the county, to go to a public hearing before it can be approved.

Hard Rock Stadium has been lined up to host a second US race on the F1 calendar, and an agreement in principle was announced on October 15. The agreement was announced in a joint statement from Tom Garfinkel, chief executive of the Dolphins, and Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations for Formula One.

Stakeholders are seeking to ensure F1 debuts in Miami in May 2021. However, Tuesday’s vote was the latest development in what has become a long-running saga. 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.

Marcus Bach, an attorney for the Dolphins, yesterday put forward the argument in favour of the deal. “I don’t understand why the response now is simply ‘no,’” he said. “Why the response now is not to sit down and have a conversation and figure out how can we work through this event, which means $400m (£310.4m/€359.9m) for our community, 35,000 room nights, 4,000 new jobs.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez can still veto the legislation that the board approved on Tuesday, and said he has the votes to do so, but added that he hopes he can broker a compromise between the opposing sides. He said: “The reason I’m opposing this is because it kind of shuts the door on any negotiations, but I believe that we can find a common ground here. We can find a solution.

“What I want to do is get the Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium to talk to the community, the community to talk to the Dolphins, to see in what way we can bring this event to Miami-Dade County. I think it’s important that we do.”

Image: F1 Miami