Posted on: January 9, 2024, 11:58h.
Last updated on: January 9, 2024, 12:00h.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix has hired Betsy Fretwell, who served as Las Vegas city manager for nine years, as its new chief operating officer.
“We are excited to add a seasoned professional of Betsy’s caliber to our team,” Renee Wilm, Las Vegas Grand Prix’s CEO, said in a statement. “She brings extensive executive experience working in the public and private sectors and will be an immediate asset to our organization.”
As city manager, Fretwell oversaw 3,300 employees and a $1.3B annual budget.
Rough Road to Pave Over
Hiring a former city manager may be part of F1 owner Liberty Media’s strategic response to harsh criticism leveled at the Grand Prix from Las Vegas businesses, locals, and tourists. Fretwell’s duties include supervising the race’s community relations, which are at a severely low point.
Though multibillion-dollar casino corporations claim the race inaugural race resulted in their highest-grossing weekend ever, the nine months of road closures and construction delays it caused decimated many small businesses, and drastically inconvenienced casino workers and tourists alike.
Last week, Gino Ferraro, owner of Ferraro’s Ristorante on Paradise Road, wrote a letter to Clark County Commissioners — who approved the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix’s annual reconfiguration of the Las Vegas Strip for nine more years — claiming that the race cost him $2.5M in revenues and $500K in profits.
“We heard from countless tourists that they will not return to Vegas during that time of the year,” Ferraro wrote, adding: “Who profited? A few hotels … How do we know what the ROI is with all the money that was spent to destroy the Strip, its surroundings, and ultimately, people’s lives?”
None of the negatively impacted businesses, workers, or tourists are known to have been compensated in any way by Liberty Media.
“I strongly believe we need to rethink the strategy of how we can accommodate our visitors prior to the race and during,” Ferraro continued. “We can’t destroy the city for one weekend.”