Formula 1 is officially in Las Vegas this weekend for the much-hyped Las Vegas Grand Prix.
But if you don’t have a ticket, don’t even think about trying to get a glimpse of the track.
That’s because F1 has gone to some absolutely ridiculous lengths to make sure that pedestrians aren’t able to watch the race from the sidewalks or bridges surrounding the street course without buying one of their ridiculously overpriced tickets.
On the pedestrian bridges crossing Las Vegas Boulevard, which has been partially transformed into a racetrack for the event, film was put up to block the view of the track.
Officials said the move was for “safety reasons” to prevent overcrowding on the bridge from pedestrians hoping to get a view of the race – or the Las Vegas Sphere. But Vegas residents were none too thrilled, and quickly began ripping the barrier down.
Formula 1 also threatened to block the view of venues along the track unless they paid $1,500 per person (based on the venue’s maximum capacity). The series reportedly told operators that if they didn’t pay up, their view of the race would be blocked by signs, barriers, or lights.
In response to the news of the fee, F1 and their parent company, Liberty Media, said they were merely “protecting their intellectual property.”
“Liberty Media and F1 have made a long-term investment to race in Las Vegas. We want the local community to benefit from our event, and we are confident that the race will bring tremendous economic value to Las Vegas as a whole.
F1 commonly executes licensing agreements to protect its intellectual property rights, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix is following this same approach. In addition, these arrangements allow the Las Vegas Grand Prix to ensure the fan experience in its partner venues meets the expectations for this event.”
(Formula 1 later reportedly reduced the fee to “only” $50,000 per venue).
It’s pretty insane that they’re going to these lengths to keep people from watching the race, but when you consider that the average three-day ticket package for the race started at around $2,000, you see why they’re so desperate to make people pay their ridiculous prices.
Unfortunately it seems to have backfired: All the bridges they’ve burned (well, covered) with Vegas locals has resulted in demand plummeting, forcing F1 to slash ticket prices by up to 60% and hotels to offer deep discounts to fill rooms that they expected to be sold out for the event.
I mean, you didn’t want people to watch the race, so they’re just not going to watch.
Of course another issue with the race is the time. The Las Vegas Grand Prix doesn’t start until 10 PM local time this coming Saturday, November 18. (And for anybody watching on the east coast, you’ll have to stay up until 1:00 AM on November 19 if you want to watch).
Throw in the fact that Max Verstappen has pretty much dominated this season and won just about every race on his way to locking up the championship before the season even ends, and it’s not hard to see why the demand just isn’t there.
But hey, keep blocking those bridges. Wouldn’t want people to be able to watch the race and see how boring it is in person.