Las Vegas (KSNV) — Stratospheric economic impact numbers are being kicked around as Las Vegas approaches its first opportunity to host a Formula One race in four decades, but is the hype achievable? If you believe the Austin, Texas version of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the short answer is “absolutely.”
Austin began hosting an F1 race in 2012 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), a closed track several miles southeast of the city. It will hold its 11th race in October, about a month before the Las Vegas Grand Prix. So, how does it stack up against other significant events in Austin? According to Wesley Lucas, the Director of Communications at Visit Austin, “It’s bigger than so many different events for Austin. It’s the biggest event of the year.”
“We are the original U.S F1 race,” Lucas said. “Now there are three, but we are the U.S. Grand Prix and home to it, and very proud of our race and very proud of the impact it has on our community,” she added. “Not only just downtown Austin, the significant impact from the event, but around the entire Austin area.”
Lucas says the 2021 Formula One race at COTA had a $434 million economic impact on the greater Austin area. That’s substantially more than a two-week music festival that brings in fans from all over the nation. “To put that into perspective, the 2019 South By Southwest economic impact was just about $365 million. So the best year that South By Southwest had, which is about a two-week event, is below a three-day event that we host out at Circuit of the Americas for Formula One.”
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Lucas says other economic signs indicate that Formula One racing is steadily growing in popularity across Texas and the U.S.
Visit Austin says it’s seeing growth in its hospitality industry as greater demand drives up room rates for fans coming in for race weekend. “As far as hotel rates go for Austin, it’s the best weekend our hotels see,” said Lucas.
“Just this last year, the average daily rate (ADR) was $439 for the entire weekend. The highest average rate being on Saturday night downtown we saw $787 a night and $511 citywide,” said Lucas. “For Austin, that’s extremely high. I know for Vegas, your rates would be a little bit higher, but you don’t typically see numbers like that average across the city. That’s up 37% over the F-1 rates we had in 2019. And historically, the highest ADR over F-1 has been $563. So again, really surpassing those numbers with the other race last year.”
Like Austin, Lucas says our Grand Prix will put Las Vegas on an international stage, especially with F1 racing’s enormous popularity overseas. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase your destination to a wide international audience,” said Lucas. “It’s a commercial for Vegas. We take a lot of pride in showing off our city and welcoming visitors from all over the world to our city and showcasing our businesses, and our live music venues. Everyone in the community benefits from this race,” she added. “So definitely an opportunity for folks to take advantage of that worldwide stage that Vegas is going to be on.”