The 'Residents Vs. Big Business' War Over The F1 Miami Grand Prix Is Well Underway

Image: Hard Rock Stadium

Just last week, it was announced that the Formula One Miami Grand Prix we all doubted would happen may indeed happen by virtue of a purpose-built track at the Miami Dolphins’ NFL stadium. But even that’s iffy, and the stadium is now petitioning against residents who are petitioning against its tentative F1 race.

An email account made for the tentative F1 race under the Hard Rock Stadium website, which is the current name of the Dolphins’ arena, went out to people on an email list Tuesday evening asking them to “HELP US BRING FORMULA 1 TO MIAMI!” in all caps, as one does. The race is subject to the approval of the Miami-Dade County Commission, and if that happens, the organizers said they expect the first race to happen in May of 2021.

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The county is thus a big deal in this fight between residents and the stadium, and its email read as follows:

Thank you for your interest in bringing F1 to South Florida. Unfortunately, a neighborhood group is trying to block the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix. 

If you want to see Formula 1 racing at Hard Rock Stadium, help us contact our Miami-Dade Commissioners by clicking the button below.

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The email then echoed the organizers’ claims about what they say the race will bring to the area—more than $400 million in economic impact annually, 35,000 bookings at local hotels and 4,000 new jobs—ending with a call to action to “do your part to make the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix a reality” and a big, red button to contact commissioners.

The sentiment is echoed on the Hard Rock Stadium website, where the front page currently loads as such:

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That link takes visitors to a page where they can select whether they’re a Miami Gardens resident, a Miami-Dade resident or a Florida resident, and each button leads to a pre-written letter where area residents can fill out their names and information and send support of the race to their respective elected officials.

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The pages where the pre-written letters can be sent ask those sending them to edit the text to add why they’d like to see F1 in the area, and there are multiple versions of each letter. One of the Miami-Dade ones ends on “Please do what’s right for our small business community and support Formula 1!!!!” and one of the Florida ones with a kicker of “Do what is right and what is best for the community, not for a handful of neighbors who live near a stadium.”

Ouch! Below are some examples, emphasis ours.

Miami Gardens:

Dear [recipient position will go here] [recipient last name will go here],

Residents like me elect our officeholders to do what’s best for our entire community. Right now, we have the Super Bowl of auto racing ready to come to our community – Formula 1. But certain residents who will be affected for a short period of time are trying to stop it. Please work to find a solution. Turning away big events like Formula 1 is terrible for our community as a whole. We are a world class community and we should be able to host world class events. Please work it out and approve Formula 1. We will need those jobs and that tourism money.

Sincerely,

[your name will go here]

[your email address will go here]

[your location will go here]

Miami-Dade:

Dear [recipient position will go here] [recipient last name will go here],

Live music, entertainment and sporting events provide good opportunities for us in the hospitality business (uber drivers to hotels) earn additional income, as these events create a huge demand across rideshare services. During the week leading up to a major event such as Art Basel or the Super Bowl, taxis and uber drivers will be able to earn what would normally take nearly a month to bring in. As the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix will be an incredible opportunity for all of us to make more money with more visitors in town, I strongly urge you to make Formula 1 a reality for Miami-Dade!

Sincerely,

[your name will go here]

[your email address will go here]

[submission:values:external_custom_search]

Florida:

Dear [recipient position will go here] [recipient last name will go here],

I was stunned to read in the national press that the Miami-Dade Commission is even considering the idea of turning down the opportunity to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix. A chance to host an event of this magnitude and global recognition is rare – there’s only one other F1 race in the country! –and passing up this opportunity would be a disservice to your residents. The most important auto racing event in the world is looking to make a home in our backyard, and it would be shameful to do anything except welcome F1 with open arms.

Sincerely,

[your name will go here]

[your email address will go here]

The campaign seems aggressive on the stadium’s part, especially so soon after the preliminary deal was announced. But there’s a fairly well-assembled group of residents fighting against it, and after the plans for a downtown street course fell through due to issues like construction times to set the circuit up annually and other area complaints, the stadium probably doesn’t want to risk it.

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A group of residents of Miami Gardens, where the stadium is located, have been actively protesting and speaking out against the potential grand prix. The group also has a website, mgfamiliesunite.com, where its stance is written as such:

Join the families of Miami Gardens in standing up against proposed plans to bring Formula 1 Racing to our community. The City of Miami has already said “No” to bringing the race Downtown. Why bring it to our neighborhood? Big business wins while our community will suffer damage to children’s hearing, air pollution, noise pollution, traffic inconveniences and road closures. Formula 1 in Miami Gardens is a Formula for Disaster!

The movement has begun, where do you stand?

The website is regularly updated and has a huge section where people can RSVP for upcoming events to speak out against and protest the race.

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Local news station WSVN wrote about the group earlier this month, saying one of the people at a recent protest was former Miami-Dade Commissioner Betty T. Ferguson. From the story:

“Even more people will be affected negatively by a race like this than even in the downtown [Miami] area,” she said, “because you’re talking about a stadium that is surrounded on all four sides by bedroom communities … environmentally devastating.”

Formula 1 and local organizers are trying the Hard Rock as a venue after giving up on plans to hold a race in downtown Miami. Officials there said it would disrupt businesses and residents.

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The residents’ group, according to The Miami Times, plans to protest at every Dolphins home game through Dec. 1 and at the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, which will also take place at Hard Rock.

It’s basically a wrestling match between the people who want to make money and the people who don’t want their area disrupted by others’ incessant need for cash, with the government able to decide who wins.

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Will the Miami Grand Prix happen? Perhaps we’ll find out by May of 2021.

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About the author

Alanis King

Alanis King is a staff writer at Jalopnik.