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John Locher/AP

George Russell drives during a demonstration along the Las Vegas Strip at a launch party for the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Las Vegas.

The Clark County Commission gave approval today for staff to start negotiations on a public-private partnership for up to $40 million in public money to cover costs of infrastructure work needed for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The proposal passed on a narrow 4-3 vote with commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Justin Jones and Michael Naft against the negotiations. The race is Nov. 16-18.

The commission’s approval means county officials and Liberty Media, the parent company of Formula One, can negotiate the county’s contribution. It doesn’t mean the county is obligated to agree on a partnership.

“My challenge is that, I fully understand incentivizing special events and incentivizing businesses to come to the community and I see the value in that, but I’m not really sure from the county’s perspective how this got to this point because I don’t really know what we’re negotiating for,” Naft said. “Formula One is already here … and I think it’s going to be a big boon to the economy. This negotiation feels a little bit too late.”

Stephanie Allen, who represented the race at the commission meeting, said improvements to county streets and safety components would be $80 million. 

Commissioner Jim Gibson, who voted in favor of starting negotiations, said the county will benefit from taking on some construction costs because there has been an increased interest in bringing other races to Southern Nevada. 

“I don’t know what the official bottom line is, but I have a line in my head about how far that should go and it should not be something that injures our capacity to deliver up the services that we deliver our constituents, that we’re expected to deliver them and that we all intend to deliver them over the course of time,” Gibson said. “But a negotiation feels like a fair way of proceeding under the circumstances.”

Money from the county would specifically go towards improving the road infrastructure and installing safety features on the track route, Allen said. 

Roughly 3.8 miles of county roadways are being transformed to accommodate the November race, including Las Vegas Boulevard, Harmon Avenue, Koval Lane and Sands Avenue. Formula One is also constructing its headquarters on Harmon and Koval — a project they paid for.

“We’re making a request because there’s a significant public purpose related to the improvements to Clark County’s roads that you all will own after those improvements and have exclusive use of after those improvements with the exception of the race on an annual basis,” Allen said. 

Kirkpatrick and Jones indicated officials were surprised to hear of the request for county funding. 

Kirkpatrick said the price tag gave her reason for concern, especially since the county would not be getting as much back as they’re putting in. 

Gibson said the county won’t receive much of the money generated from the Las Vegas Grand Prix, even with as many as 170,000 people flooding into town for the three-day race and a projected impact projected at $1 billion

Only portions of the room tax and consolidated taxes will be diverted to Clark County, but it’s “nothing extraordinary,” Gibson said. 

Negotiations are not even an option for Kirkpatrick until she sees “what everyone else brings to the table,” she said. 

“Forty million, what’s $40 million? In our capital budget, that’s a lot,” Kirkpatrick said. “That’s somebody’s parks, that’s somebody’s recreation center, that’s some building that has duck tape on the carpet because we haven’t made it a priority, that’s what $40 million is to me.”

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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