Formula 1 is speeding into one of its biggest events ever after a record-breaking third quarter.
Parent company Liberty Media reported on Friday that F1 reeled in $887 million in total revenue between July and September. That’s up 24% from last year, when it finished the same quarter with $715 million, though this quarter included eight races opposed to seven. While F1’s operating income received a 61% bump to $132 million, operating expenses, including team payments, were also up 24%.
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F1 is gearing up for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 18, where it expects to snag roughly $500 million in revenue with the inaugural GP slated to be one of the largest events in the company’s history. Liberty says it is generating record-level sponsorship deals for the race, inking partnerships with brands such as Moët Hennessy and Google Chrome.
“More importantly, we think the Vegas experience will create commercial opportunities beyond the race itself and accrue to the broader F1 ecosystem,” Liberty CEO Greg Maffei said on an earnings call.
Liberty, which has invested tens of millions to build its U.S. headquarters in Vegas, is expecting sizeable profits during race weekend. Some of those will be offset by expenses that include increased security, traffic planning, creation of fan database and costs surrounding the Vegas GP opening ceremony.
“Vegas is proving to be a bigger spectacle and more impactful than we anticipated, but there’s also proven to be initial startup costs,” Maffei said. “There’s a bunch of initial costs that are higher than we estimated but we remain bullish on the impact of Formula 1 overall in Las Vegas and the potential for this race to be a profitable exercise.”
Liberty, which recently acquired sports and entertainment company Quint for $313 million, is nearly sold out of tickets for the Vegas GP event, executives said on Friday.
Tens of thousands of Vegas hotel workers at 18 casinos and resort operators, meanwhile, are threatening to halt the fun. About 35,000 workers, according to the Culinary Workers Union, are prepared and ready to leave the job and strike if there isn’t a new labor contract done by the Nov. 10 deadline. The work stoppage issue could potentially create a major disruption during race weekend.
“We have worked with the unions,” Maffei said. “We believe that our race won’t be impacted directly but we’re obviously watching what impact that will have on the overall Las Vegas market.”
Liberty’s Atlanta Braves also posted a solid third quarter, where total revenue grew 11% year-over-year to $272 million. The Braves, which spun off into standalone company Atlanta Braves Holdings over the summer, received a jolt thanks to their 104-win season and the sale of 3.2 million tickets, a record for their home, Truist Park. Their season ended in the National League Division Series at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.
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