After hours of public hearings, County Commissioners told Formula One advocates not so fast at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
Due to a pair of votes, commissioners forced Formula One and the Miami Dolphins to go back to the negotiating table, this time headed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
With split votes, commissioners stopped racing in Miami Gardens but Gimenez wants to come to some kind of consensus. An ordinance, which will be heard again, requires commission approval before any racing can happen in Miami Gardens. The other vote on a resolution, calls for commission approval of any racing in the county. Though not quite knocking racing off the tracks, the county votes came after the Miami Gardens City Council voted against Formula one racing at Hard Rock Stadium, which is located in Miami Gardens, and persistent community opposition.
The Miami Gardens City Council unanimously passed a resolution objecting to the proposal.
Miami Gardens Councilwoman Lillie Q. Odom sponsored the resolution objecting to the Formula 1 proposal. She did not speak at the dais and has not responded to requests for comment.
The Dolphins say the annual three-day event will bring in an estimated $423 million in direct spending and fill up to 35,000 hotel rooms. Those pros are up against the cons of more periods of increased congestion, and noise and light pollution from the race cars.
Though the newer Formula 1 racing cars are hybrids and designed to be more fuel efficient, the addition of a race in Miami would add one more destination in a global event which already generates 147 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually, according to CleanTechnica. The emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide is the reason for the global warming crisis called climate change.
The proposed track set up will require the close of a section of Northwest 199 Street for at least six hours in total for three days, two hours per day. However, the three-day event includes set up and practice races. The race would close the piece of Northwest 199 Street in front of Hard Rock Stadium between Northwest 27 Avenue and the Turnpike.
The Formula 1 race cars would produce noise like car-sized mosquitoes louder than a rock concert for two hours towards communities less than a quarter of a quarter mile from the race. The buzzing will be loud enough to produce pain, according to Colby Leider, an engineer with expertise in sound and music.
If County Commissioners approve, Formula 1 cars will eventually race on a track built around Hard Rock Stadium on the land the Dolphins Stadium Corp. leased from Dade County government in 1984. In 2019, Dolphins Owner Stephen M. Ross’ company, South Florida Stadium LLC, owns the property. Ross is also on the board of Formula 1 and wants to host Formula 1 races in Miami Gardens. This is the second attempt to host Formula 1 in Miami-Dade County; elected officials in Miami denied the event for the effect it would have on traffic.
The Dolphins need both road closure permission from the county and a special events permit from the Miami Gardens.
Betty T. Ferguson and District 1 Commissioner Barbra J. Jordan are also against Formula 1 at Hard Rock Stadium.
Jordan organized two town halls in Miami Gardens high schools to get the community’s feedback. Jordan has been against racing in Miami Gardens since the majority of residents showed their displeasure during a town hall at Norland Senior High School.
“The cons far outweigh the pros in terms of the effect to the community,” Jordan said.
“I was really, extremely pleased that she would put that resolution on the agenda,” Ferguson said about Councilwoman Odom. “I was surprised it was on the consent agenda. I was concerned that it would prevent any discussion but that didn’t happen because of public comment.”
More than a dozen Miami Gardens residents spoke against Formula 1, including Deirdre Anderson who went straight to the top with her comments.
“To CEO Tom Garfinkel, why not in your backyard? To Owner Stephen Ross, why not at your house?”
Marcus Bach, senior director of legal and government affairs for the Dolphins, challenged the information and urgency coming from the community.
“It’s premature to have a conversation about what’s going to happen,” said Bach of the presentations of the noise, air and light pollution.
Hard Rock Stadium is on Northwest 27 Avenue and surrounded by residential communities. Further east on Northwest 199 Street, past the Sonic and Walmart are homes where people live.
“The section of 199 is not a residential neighborhood,” Bach said. “There are no mailboxes on either side. It is zoned as a stadium, it is a stadium district. It is not zoned residential.”
When asked to acknowledge there are homes on the other side of a wall and around the stadium Bach said. “We have to make the right decisions for the community, the county as a whole. We will always collaborate and cooperate to balance the interests appropriately.”
Bach brought up the Driver’s Club project as a track for race cars that has already been approved. The project at Northwest 47th Ave is a yet-to-be-complete luxury automobile club with a two-mile track.
“It’s for race cars. You can take a Toyota Prius out there,” Bach said. “There are people who own Formula 1 cars and take them out there. It’s a track like ours is a track.”
Jordan and Ferguson said the Driver’s Club project is not a race track for race cars.
Ferguson is a Miami Gardens community activist, former County Commissioner and the first representative for District 1 after she helped create the district, motivated by the Dolphins decision to belly flop a stadium in her community in 1984.
Ferguson has been politically active since, holding a seat on the County Commission from 1993 to 2004 and creating the Underrepresented People’s Positive Action Council in 1987. And there were elections for nine at-large seats for county commissioners until Ferguson and others sued the county and won, creating elections for four more districts raising the total to 2019’s 13.
She said the Dolphins actions then motivated her to get involved in politics. She ran for the first time in 1986, and again in 1990 but did not win until 1993.
Ferguson said she would hate to phrase it as lingering resentment but the community accidentally discovered the Dolphins plans to build a stadium. The wall on Northwest 199 Street between the street and the stadium is the result of a lawsuit Ferguson initiated to stop the construction of the stadium.
“It was the attitude of the elected officials at the time. That they could do what they wanted to without talking to us. That’s where the resentment started. Yes there was resentment between the community, the Dolphins and the county.”
Ferguson also organized peaceful protests against Formula 1 at Hard Rock Stadium. There were protests on Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 and more will take place on Nov. 3, Nov. 17, Dec. 1 and Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 2.