Efforts to bring Formula 1 to Hard Rock Stadium hit speed bump

County commissioners vote to change process for residential road closures

MIAMI – The plan to bring Formula 1 racing to the Hard Rock Stadium was slowed a bit by the Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday. 

In a pair of votes, commissioners changed the process to close roads for racing near residential neighborhoods.

The votes came at the end of a five-hour hearing about the benefits versus damage to Miami Gardens residents, who turned out in force in opposition. 

With the votes, the commission requires any planned road closure for Formula 1 or any street race in Miami Gardens' stadium district, and potentially the county, to go to a public hearing before potential approval. 

Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district encompasses Miami Gardens, sponsored the legislation in reaction to the announcement earlier this month that Formula 1 representatives and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reached a deal to produce and host the Grand Prix event.

"This ordinance is not meant to harm any other municipality who wants to sponsor this event. We'd gladly give it to you. Gladly," Jordan said.

In a packed public hearing, Miami Gardens residents wearing orange shirts filled the commission chambers, many of them taking the allotted two minutes each to implore commissioners to vote against the event.

"I think Formula 1 might be good for Miami, it's just not good for Miami Gardens," said resident Brenda Providence.  

Another speaker added, "I am asking you to see beyond the dollar signs and think of the people around the stadium."

Many cited fears of fumes from cars racing at speeds topping 200 mph, hearing damaging noise levels, trash and congestion in residential neighborhoods surrounding the stadium. 

"Formula 1 will bring about bad health, and an insurance crisis we cannot afford," said Carol Minnie, who said she lives in Lake Lucerne, in the shadow of Hard Rock Stadium.

The Miami Gardens mayor and City Council officially voted against having the event in the city.

Most of those speaking in favor of the annual event were Formula 1 representatives, Chamber of Commerce and hotel industry representatives, and residents who live outside Miami Gardens. 

"Formula 1 is one of the biggest investment sports in the world," said Javier Sanchez, who says he lives in Miami Lakes.

South Florida attorney Al Dotson, Jr., representing Formula 1, said the annual race goes to a "...world-class city where the elite of the world want to be and live," showing PowerPoint slides of F1 tracks in neighborhoods in Monaco and Singapore.

Some mentioned the lineup of football and other sporting events, multiday concerts and festivals currently staged at Hard Rock Stadium, and the resulting economic development around it. 

Miami Gardens resident Mary Reeves gave the commission an alternative perspective.

"We are held hostage in our homes during every event held at Hard Rock," she said.

Formula 1 has one other location in the United States, in Austin, Texas, held outside the city center and residential neighborhoods.

Formula 1 hopes and plans to race its first three-day South Florida Grand Prix in May of 2021

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