David J. Danto
Travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD on all
F1 And Loathing In Las Vegas – November 2023
Authoring a Las Vegas trip report isn’t a new thing…until it is. The Formula 1 race taking place this weekend (as I write this) has messed up Vegas more than any other event in my decades long experience of coming to this town multiple times a year.
I traveled to Las Vegas to attend an industry conference that took place at the MGM Grand immediately before the race. I saw first-hand how this insanity was playing out. It has been so bad that the CEO of the firm that runs the race has publicly apologized to the Vegas residents about the disruption. Let me give you some details.
Rather than put the track somewhere out of the way, they built it through the heart of the strip, forcing major construction to both cover the needs of the race and reroute traffic around it. That’s right – it wasn’t just the building of the track but it included the building of automotive bridges over it in a few spots that will take weeks to disassemble. Traffic a week before the race is already mind-boggling. It took a taxi I was in an hour to go from the MGM to the Wynn. An HOUR for what is at worst a fifteen-minute trip.
The hotel/casinos along the track are no longer accessible from their front entrances – where temporary viewing stands have been built. Some may have rear access, but few tourists know of these. Heck, the folks that run the Bellagio actually cut down the trees on the sidewalk in front of their iconic fountains to build the stands. Traveling down The Strip right now all one sees are fences, viewing stands, and construction cones.
Final totals are not in yet, but the economic impact has been reported to be a big bust. Quoting from the team at the website LasVegasAdvisor: “According to CNN, ticket prices for the race and hotel room rates are "plunging" ahead of F1. Tickets have dropped 35% in the past month, from an average of $1,645 to $1,060 for grandstand seats, which means they've declined 50% from the rack rate of $2,000 when they were introduced a year ago. Meanwhile, rates for still-available rooms are averaging $285, down from around $350 a month ago. And a Las Vegas Review-Journal story today reports that room rates are down 75% from a year ago, corroborating the CNN piece with rates at the Linq at $190, Planet Hollywood $260, and Caesars $550 (all with four-night minimums).”
If you want to get a sense of how bad everything is here, check-out this report on YouTube. Or, just look at how angry the invasive track has made the new Sphere.
The thing about this event that is different from just about all other Las Vegas events is that when it’s over, there is still TONS of work to do to make the town normal again. The streets need to be unblocked, the fencing needs to come down, the automotive bypass bridges need to be disassembled, the Strip sidewalks need to be renovated, etc. While the F1 team boasts about the revenue they will be bringing the area, there are many other large events in Vegas that bring in that kind of revenue without tearing the fabric of the area apart. Add to that that the F1 racing teams have been instructed NOT to gamble, go to shows, or take-in any of the regular Vegas activities. Ultimately, what you have here is a disaster even if there are no major car accidents during the race. The mangled crash has already happened to the city.
The taxi drivers I spoke with during my stay this time have all told me how furious they are about the whole thing. All of five of them so far said they’re just not going to work the Thursday through Saturday of the race and most of their colleagues won’t either. Stores along the track are shuttered and some have their windows and doors barricaded – because no one can get to them anyway.
Sometimes an idea is just so bad it makes you wonder why anyone would ever have proposed it. This is one of those. As one local put it to me, “Gentlemen, start your engines and drive as far away from Vegas as soon as you can until this mess is over.”
An interesting side note of this trip is that it was my first stay at the very emerald MGM Grand after all these years. That’s where my conference took place, and I didn’t want to have to travel to get to it. The property shows lots of signs of wear and disorganization. The suite I was supposed to be in (walking to it after checking-in – dragging my luggage all the way down to the end of the looooooooong corridor) was being “shampooed” and the screw-up forced me to go back to the check-in lounge to get reassigned – to a regular room as they had no more of the suites they booked me into. Multiple times the room keys just stopped working and had to be rekeyed and/or have the account reset. The in-room refrigerator I requested didn’t come after asking the first three times. It finally came about sixteen hours later after a fourth request. And then I remembered and experienced just how far the MGM convention center is from the hotel. I could have gotten to the next nearby casino via a shorter walk. Probably the first and last time here for me.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.
Copyright 2023 David Danto
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