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Billionaire Developer Stephen Ross Struggling To Bring Formula One To Miami

Related founder Stephen Ross has earned billions of dollars, built massive real estate developments all over the world and acquired an NFL team. But he's struggling to get a Formula One race going around the parking lot of his football stadium. 

Billionaire Developer Stephen Ross Struggling To Bring Formula One To Miami
Related Chairman Stephen Ross and designer Thomas Heatherwick at "The Vessel's" unveiling at Hudson Yards

Formula One features $15M sports cars racing through city streets during nearly two dozen stops around the world. This year's circuit features races in Monte Carlo, Abu Dhabi, Montreal, Sao Paulo and Austin, Texas — the only U.S. site.

Since 2017, Ross has been trying to add a U.S. race in Miami. Last spring, the Miami City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to host a Formula One race in downtown, but residents and business owners objected, with some threatening to sue.

So new a new plan was devised: to have the race around Hard Rock Stadium, where Ross's Miami Dolphins play. The stadium is in Miami Gardens, north of Miami and miles from any beach or bay. The plan faces opposition from some residents in the predominantly African American neighborhood, who are worried about noise, air pollution and traffic.

The stadium would require special permits to host the event. On Oct. 29, Miami-Dade County commissioners voted to ban the necessary street closures. Mayor Carlos Gimenez, however, vetoed the legislation, citing the race's economic impact. Tuesday, the commission moved to override the mayor’s veto, but fell one vote short, the Miami Herald reported. 

"Sustaining my veto buys three to six months so that the parties involved can continue to work toward a solution for #MiamiGardens, Stephen Ross and the @MiamiDolphins, as well as racing fans," Gimenez tweeted after yesterday's vote.

There are still more permitting hurdles at both the county level and with the city of Miami Gardens, whose commission opposes the race. County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes the stadium, threatened to organize votes and bad publicity against the project during the 2020 Super Bowl — which will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in February.

"Miami Gardens and District 1 is not for sale. There are some things that you just can’t buy regardless to whether you’re a billionaire, a trillionaire, or whatever,” Jordan told WLRN.

Race organizers have said the the stadium site still has attractive aspects, such as easy highway access, proximity to hotels and television sight lines of both the Fort Lauderdale and Miami skylines.

But the owner of Austin's F1 racetrack, Circuit of the Americas, told ESPN that F1 risks ruining its brand if it proceeds with a race based in a parking lot rather than along a waterfront.

"The selling point behind Miami was not the track, it was the [original] backdrop," Bobby Epstein said. "They said we want to be in global destinations with iconic backdrops. It does seem very off brand of them to have a parking lot race."