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Events and Attractions

F1 Miami Grand Prix: A sports business retrospective

By Adam Stern

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- With the inaugural F1 Miami GP in the books, SBJ offers a look back at how the event performed and how it can be better next year.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: After five years of trying, Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, CEO Tom Garfinkel and their staff were able to successfully pull off an inaugural F1 Miami race weekend without any major security issues or on-track injuries, two things that should never be taken for granted with a new event of such scale. A crowd of 85,280 people attended on race day and 242,955 people were tracked as attending over the three-day weekend, making it the most attended event in the history of Hard Rock Stadium. Fueled by Netflix’s and ESPN’s exposure of the sport, the buzz for the event in the Miami area was being compared to Super Bowl levels, and the 15,000 hospitality guests included a nearly endless list of celebrities and luminaries.

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: There were food-and-beverage issues at the F1 Paddock Club, something that upset both teams and guests, as tickets were priced at $9,000. Sources on site reported to SBJ that the issues at the Paddock Club got better as the weekend went on, but part of the ire from the teams was that South Florida Motorsports, the Dolphins’ subsidiary running the event, chose to use their own group for the Paddock Club rather than elect to go with the usual company that manages the highest level of hospitality at F1 races. Event COO Tyler Epp told SBJ on Saturday, “(The Paddock Club) is an institution in this industry and we care a lot about that experience. We have met routinely and consistently since Thursday with all the key stakeholders in that group -- the teams, FIA, F1, partners of the media, partners with suites. We’ve had some who have had a great experience and others who have not had a great one, but for us it’s about troubleshooting and trying to make sure we know they’re heard and we are doing everything we can to right a wrong.” Other issues reported from teams included dealing with car traffic and long walks getting around the expansive campus.

SPONSOR ACTIVATION: The amount of sponsor activation not just at the campus of Hard Rock Stadium but around the greater Miami region was impressive. When taking rides into the downtown Miami and South Beach areas, huge billboards were plastered with advertising from F1 industry sponsors such as watchmakers IWC Schaffhausen (sponsor of Mercedes) and Richard Mille (sponsor of Ferrari). The parent companies of many of the teams also took advantage of the weekend: A Speedway gas station near the campus had dueling energy drink activations: one from Red Bull, which owns Red Bull Racing, and one from Monster Energy, which sponsors Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Red Bull had an armada of Mini Cooper cars with its branding driving around the track to give out free cans. McLaren used its new Artura hybrid sports car to give guests hot laps. Mercedes launched a new car with entertainer Will.I.Am. Heineken launched a new anti-drinking-and-driving campaign with McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo. Cognizant, the U.S. digital services company that co-title sponsors the Aston Martin team, has struck many lucrative B2B deals that it attributes to the sponsorship, including one worth $100M. In fact, CMO Gaurav Chand told SBJ that Cognizant's deal has essentially paid for itself.

WELL REPRESENTED: The sports business industry was out in full force to support the growth of F1 in America. Agencies like CAA and CSM have long been in F1; CAA has worked with F1 and Red Bull Racing to broker sponsorship deals. But execs from other agencies like Leverage Agency, MKTG and Excel Sports Management were also spotted around the city during race weekend. NASCAR agent Rod Moskowitz was spotted in the paddock, and several NASCAR execs were known to have attended the event.

CROWD LEVELS: The Dolphins can expand capacity for next year. It is thought that at least 100,000 people could be welcomed onto the campus for race day in '23.

Day of the race drew 85,000 fans, but Dolphins can expand capacity for next year, possibly up to 100,000 attendeesSouth Florida Motorsports

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