Plans for an F1 race in Miami are set to take a step forward on Thursday with a vote of the city's commission looking like a formality.
A resolution in support of the race sponsored by Miami mayor Francis Suarez and three of the five city commissioners is to be considered in the course of a full day of regular city business.
The five commissioners will then vote on whether to proceed, and given that three of them have indicated their support by sponsoring the resolution and that only three votes are required, it looks likely be passed without too much drama.
The resolution allows city manager Emilio Gonzalez to proceed with negotiations with F1.
He has been asked to return with a Host City Contract, ready for further analysis by the City Commission, before July 1st. Gonzalez is a former US Army colonel who until recently ran Miami International Airport.
One of the complications is the proposed use of the bridge to Dodge Island, which is the main route the city's port, although there is also a tunnel.
Along with other authorities the port director will have to agree to the restricted access for the duration of the event.
Miami commissioner Ken Russell, whose waterfront District 1 includes the proposed circuit layout, was not one of the three invited to sponsor the resolution. However, he has indicated that he'll support the project.
"The city of Miami has a very exciting brand that we believe is on a par with F1," he told Motorsport.com. "We think fans of F1 would like to see a race here. Hopefully there's something we can work out together. We're optimistic, and Thursday will be the first step towards discussions.
"The port makes for a very exciting track, with the bridge. You're connected two pieces of land with a pretty exciting vista. And so it's a good addition to the race. Logistically it also makes it easier to implement with regard to a pretty congested downtown."
F1 owners Liberty Media have suggested the Miami race won't follow the traditional model with a promoter – in this case billionaire Stephen Ross – paying a substantial sanctioning fee.
A proposal document for the event notes that "following Miami guidance, an atypical commercial model is being developed to enable the race to take place."
Some sources have suggested that could involve some form of risk or revenue sharing joint venture between F1 and the promoter, or even be a "free deal" along the lines of the one long enjoyed by Monaco.
F1 boss Chase Carey declined to give details when asked in a Liberty conference call today, but he confirmed that the race would have its own arrangements.
"Every deal is unique," Carey noted. "Realistically, this isn't a done deal yet, we obviously have some steps to go through. But each deal is unique, and I think we knew going into the US market, which is more like a developed market, you're going to have unique aspects to it.
"But that would be true with other agreements we have in other places, everyone assumes that these deals are a one-note song, but realistically there are a lot of moving parts around sponsorships and hospitality, and other components that go into it – different economics on a street race versus a track.
"It actually is a structure that gives us a really exciting race, both as a fan proposition, and a business proposition. We believe it's going to happen and we hope it's going to happen, and we believe this race could be a real signature race for us on the schedule."
F1 has suggested a 2pm start, and the original plan was for a late June 2019 date, to follow the Canadian GP. One of the main reasons for that was to avoid the NBA season, because the American Airlines Arena – home to the Miami Heat – is located in the middle of the F1 venue.
Instead the proposed date for the inaugural race has moved to October, in theory aligning it with Austin and Mexico, unless either of those move. In 2017 Miami Heat had eight home games in October, four of them in the last week of the month.
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