Miami Mayor Says Ball In Formula E’s Court After City Commission Approves Extension

Formula E's return to South Florida is in the hands of series promoters after Miami's city commission approved a five-year extension. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado told SBD Global that the future of the Miami ePrix, scheduled to make its debut on Saturday, depends on Formula E and event organizers Andretti Sports Marketing.

"The city commission just approved a proposal that I presented to sign for five years," he said. "It was a unanimous vote. Now it's up to Formula E." Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said that the series would love to stay in Miami until '19. "From our side we are committed to continue racing in Miami," he said. Despite this obvious agreement regarding future Formula E races, Regalado does not expect an official announcement from the series until the season is over. "We are going to have a symbolic signature of documents on Friday afternoon. I mean it's up to them [Formula E]," he said.

Saturday's race along Biscayne Bay will be the first in downtown Miami in more than a decade. The difference, Regalado said, is that back then the city gave money to host the event – this is not the case this time around. He called the series coming to Miami a sort of gift to the city. "They are paying for everything, which is unusual here in South Florida when you talk about sports," he said. The reason why Miami gets the race for free is the city's "very strong" sponsorship potential, Agag said. Formula E's sponsors want to be in Miami and cover the cost of the event. In Miami, organizers are also paying to fix the streets around the circuit.

"They want the streets to be implacable," Regalado said. Local media reports claim Andretti Sports Marketing is investing $1.1M to upgrade the streets. ASM CEO/Chair Michael Andretti said it is important for the series to do well in Miami. "I think it's an important race for Formula E because the United States obviously is a huge market," he said. Andretti expects everything to be ready for Saturday's race despite the usual "snags here and there."

EASY SELL: In addition to not having to spend money and contributions to its infrastructure, the city gets an additional $85,000 in rent for Museum Park, which will host the eVillage festival area on raceday. The biggest benefit of the downtown race, however, is free promotion. "We are just hoping to get on the cameras of Fox Sports with the skyline of downtown," Regalado said.

"[The free publicity] is worth millions we can't afford otherwise." All this is only possible because of Formula E's concept. It is a different world, Regalado said, and clean racing is a perfect fit. "Had it been the real Formula One, it would have been a more difficult sell. But in this case everybody loves electric cars," he said. The series' limited impact on the environment combined with its reduced level of noise has resulted in zero complaints by downtown residents. Previous races in the city called for the removal of trees, but that is not possible anymore, according to Regalado.

"You kill a tree and you get burned," he said. The Formula E race is also expected to have an economic impact on the city. Organizers have hired 1,500 temporary workers for three days and a study by Formula E estimated the event should bring in about $10M in spending on the day of the race. HJ Mai/SportsBusinessDaily.com

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