Cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami have plenty of glitz. However, despite their best efforts, Las Vegas is the ultimate playground for conspicuous consumption in the US.
That makes it a natural fit for Formula 1 racing. For all the wealth and star power present in professional sports, no league or tournament on either side of the Atlantic draws out the world’s moneyed elite quite like F1. Even courtside seats for the US Open at Madison Square Garden may seem a little pedestrian to those whose yachts flock to Monte Carlo over Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Now, this match made in Heaven is about to be consummated. If anything, one might question how these two took so long to hook up.
Buildup, Vegas Style
The inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix will occur from November 16 to 18, 2023. Even a year out, the promotions are underway. In any other city, one Saturday’s worth of demonstrations and interactive activities might have sufficed.
Not in Vegas, baby. They’re going to milk this for all it’s worth, and in classic Sin City fashion, everything will be accompanied by over-the-top pomp and circumstance.
On November 4, unassuming gamblers at the Wynn were treated to the sight and unforgettable sound of an F1 car driving across the casino floor. The following night, folks on the Strip saw the same car cruise down Las Vegas Blvd.
The car in question belongs to the leading F1 team, Oracle Red Bull Racing. Its interest in the gambling space goes beyond the setting for next November’s Grand Prix. It also announced a partnership earlier this year with PokerStars to promote the latter’s Red Spade Pass.
Players on PokerStars’ international site who opt in for Chequered Flag Freeroll Challenges before each race weekend are eligible for gift packages that include exclusive access to F1 events. This year, players have already won trips to the Monaco, British, and Brazilian Grand Prix.
There’s no word as yet whether PokerStars plans to run a similar promotion on its US sites for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. However, it’s the sort of promotion we’d only expect to be announced closer to the date of the race.
Room Rates Already Skyrocketing
Room rates on the Strip tend to be high to begin with and go even higher during special events. Just ask anyone who’s unwittingly tried to plan a Vegas trip over a big fight weekend. The arrival of F1 racing in Las Vegas may drive prices to eye-watering levels.
Even this far out, there are signs that the hotel-casino industry has struck gold with the F1 plan. In the words of Caesars CEO Tom Reeg:
Formula One is a different animal… The demand for that particular event is well beyond what we were expecting.
On November 2, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that two of the city’s top hotel operators have already begun booking rooms for the weekend.
According to the LVRJ report and subsequent research by Bonus, Caesars Entertainment opened its booking portal for Grand Prix weekend on October 31. The lowest initial rate for a three-night stay (Thursday-Saturday) at the company’s comparatively affordable Linq property was $752 per night. The same stay at its flagship Caesars Palace averaged a whopping $1,519 per night. It’s unlikely that rooms will get any cheaper as race day approaches and vacancies fill.
MGM Resorts began taking bookings later in the week. The lowest initial Thursday-Saturday price at an MGM property was at the aging Luxor, at an average of $653 per night before taxes and resort fees. Rates at the Bellagio are almost triple, at $1,773 per night. At the time of writing, on MGM’s website, basic Studio King rooms at the MGM Grand were available for $800 for the Thursday night only. However, Friday and Saturday appear to be currently unavailable.
Other high-profile properties do not yet appear to be offering rooms for the weekend.
A Comp to Stomp All Comps
As expensive as a room will be that weekend, there are also ticket prices to think about. The most exclusive and glamorous events in Las Vegas never come cheap, at least to those paying their own way.
Of course, high-roller gamblers are often treated to freebies. The Las Vegas Grand Prix will be no exception. MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle has already confirmed the planned purchase of at least $20 million in tickets for the race and related events for use as gifts to high-value customers. Other casinos will surely follow suit.
Just how much are those gifts worth on an individual basis? Weekend passes to the event range start at $500, which will only get you general admission to the standing-room area. Grandstand seats, some with the Bellagio fountains as a backdrop, went on sale earlier this month. Those are in the $2,000-$3,000 range. Four-day tickets allowing access to a shared skybox are available for $10,000 per person.
If that’s not enough, there is a lineup of premium options for the very well-heeled, with pricing by inquiry only.
- The Paddock Club: This newly-purchased 39-acre property sits at the center of the circuit adjacent to Las Vegas Boulevard and promises to deliver “a bigger, bolder experience… Vegas-style, unlike anything Formula 1 has seen before.
- The Wynn Grid Club: An even more luxurious enclave within the Paddock Club. It promises fans “a 1920s Great Gatsby chic vibe set to a modern soundtrack” and “the most indulgent way to drink and toast to the victors” from “the best vantage point to watch the race.”
- Private Skyboxes: These are located above the grandstand and will feature excellent views of the start and finish.
- Private Suites: These offer elevated views of the race action heading into the Koval straightaway.
For those who can afford to attend, it will be a time to remember. Few cities in the world do luxury and large-scale spectacle like Las Vegas, and the same can be said of Formula 1. When the two join forces next year, they may well redefine what “putting on a show” means.