Posted on: May 7, 2022, 04:06h.
Last updated on: May 7, 2022, 05:24h.
Formula One Group (NASDAQ:FWONA) has announced its partner, Liberty Media, is paying $240 million for 39 acres of land near the Las Vegas Strip in advance of the league’s first race in Sin City.
CEO Greg Maffei unveiled the purchase on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call on Friday, May 6.
I would note that Liberty Media did enter an agreement to acquire 39 acres east of the strip to lock in circuit design and create capacity for the pit and paddock,” said Maffei.
He added that the transaction, which is being funded with Formula One cash on hand, is expected to close in the current quarter. The company didn’t confirm as much, but it’s speculated that the land it’s buying is at the northeast corner of Flamingo and Koval. Some of that acreage was previously occupied by the now-shuttered Ice nightclub. The seller of the land wasn’t identified.
Las Vegas Could Be Crown Jewel
F1 is looking to boost its presence and fan awareness in the US. After racing for several years in Austin, this weekend brings the league’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
Las Vegas could be the centerpiece of F1’s emerging US strategy. In March, F1 said that starting in November 2023, the world’s highest tier auto racing association will annually come to the largest US casino center for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
F1 held the Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas in 1981 and 1982, but there wasn’t racing on the Strip. The Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, will take place on the Strip, running past iconic venues such as Bellagio and Caesars, among others.
The Las Vegas circuit will be 3.8 miles and features 14 turns, with a straightaway that will allow drivers to push upwards of 200 miles per hour. It’s clear there’s already huge interest in the night race even though it’s 19 months away.
“In the 24 hours following the official announcement, Las Vegas resorts saw more requests for hotel room reservations than any other one day period in their history,” said F1 President Stefano Domenicali on the call. “We also saw the announcement generate four times more social media activity than the 2024 Vegas Super Bowl announcement.”
Las Vegas loves sports, including motorsports. The gambling hub hosts two annual NASCAR Cup Series events.
How that plays out in terms of betting handle remains to be seen. In Europe — the region that’s home to the most F1 races — the sport is heavily wagered-on. In the US, however, motorsports, including NASCAR, are in sportsbooks’ “other” category, meaning auto racing generates a handle that’s miniscule compared to traditional domestic fare such as football, basketball, and baseball.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix could change that, at least for that one race. While F1’s Austin race is popular and the Miami Grand Prix is expected to be a hit, sports wagering currently isn’t allowed in Florida or Texas. Conversely, Sin City is one of the sports betting hubs in the world, indicating it’s possible that the Las Vegas Grand Prix will be one of the most bet-on motorsports events in US history.