Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Dolphins owner wants to bring Formula One racing to Miami Gardens. Residents aren’t sold

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. AP

A plan to bring Formula One racing to Miami Gardens faces opposition from some residents who are worried about noise in their neighborhood.

Their concerns aired Tuesday night at a forum hosted by County Commissioner Barbara Jordan at Miami Norland Senior High School.

Backed by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, the race would take place on the grounds of Hard Rock Stadium and a nearby half-mile stretch of Northwest 199th Street.

The stadium would require special permits from the city to host the event, which could be used as negotiating leverage against Formula One, Jordan said. Right now, the racing plan remains just talk. No Formula One racing plans have yet been submitted for approval, according to public information officers for the city and county.

Since 2017, a group led by Ross has sought to bring Formula One to Miami, but has encountered repeated roadblocks. Earlier this year, Ross scrapped a proposal to run the race downtown through Biscayne Boulevard and around PortMiami following pushback from resident and business owners, including the threat of lawsuits.

“If it’s not good enough for those communities, why here?” said Miami Gardens resident Jahdiel Murray, 25.

A representative for the Miami Dolphins said the potential race would inject cash into the local economy. Hosting the race at Hard Rock Stadium would gross over $100 million in revenue, said Marcus Bach-Armas, senior director of legal and government affairs for the Dolphins.

A single Dolphins game can attract 65,000 to the stadium — at least before the team cut or traded most of its top players this year — but a Formula One event could have nearly 200,000 in attendance.

“It’s equivalent to having a Super Bowl that comes back every year,” Bach-Armas said, noting the Formula One deal would likely extend for at least 10 years.

The Dolphins owner would cover the $25 million host fee instead of taxpayers, Bach-Armas said, and would offer community benefits that include jobs and internships, subsidized tickets reserved for residents, playground improvement and student participation.

But residents were concerned with the potential racket. A preliminary report sponsored by the Rolling Crest Lake Inc. Homeowners Association found peak noise would approach the sound of a jet engine on takeoff.

People in nearby houses would likely experience over 120 decibels — similar to the volume of a loud rock concert — according to Colby Leider, an acoustics expert who compiled the report. He warned that some residents could suffer permanent hearing damage and that excessive noise generally has a negative impact on health.

“That’s like having firecrackers go off inside your house,” he said. “I know I would not want this in my backyard.”

Leider also advised the audience that the sound of Formula One wouldn’t just be loud, but downright unpleasant, citing an article from “the current Formula 1 engine sounds like a vacuum humping a goat.”

The race would bring with it a flurry of noise, air and light pollution, along with traffic congestion during the several weeks leading up to and following the event, according to a report from County Commission Auditor Yinka Majekodunmi. This pollution included potentially harmful fumes from burning tire traction, he added.

Formula One racing is popular internationally and some major cities have signed off on street races, including Monte Carlo, Montreal and Melbourne, Australia. But the circuit has struggled to expand in the United States. The Dolphins’ lawyer, Bach-Armas, said organizers would try to find solutions to the concerns.

“We’ll work with the community, we’ll work with local governments, to make sure we put in a plan that mitigates any effects to the community ultimately,” he said.

Others acknowledged the public health concerns but championed the potential economic opportunities, including representatives from several local labor unions and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Commissioner Jordan, who had remained skeptical of the plan from the start, resolved to fight against the venture after hearing from her constituents.

“It solidified my position as a no,” she said, “in terms of something this community does not want.”