How a Miami law firm helped bring Formula 1 to Miami Gardens, despite community backlash

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International races are coming to South Florida for the first time, with the help of law firm Bilzin Sumberg.

To bring Miami’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix to the Hard Rock Stadium complex, the law firm helped draft a county order this prompted venues to host major events and also helped the Hard Rock Stadium property secure the necessary zoning rights to develop the race complex.

The project was not without a hitch, as original attempts to bring the race to downtown Miami failed, so the focus then shifted to the Hard Rock Stadium complex.

Bilzin Sumberg managing partner Al Dotson Jr., who leads the firm’s government affairs practice and previously represented Hard Rock Stadium, and litigation partner Melissa Pallett-Vasquez took the lead.

Dispelling “Misconceptions”

Making the deal a reality has been an uphill but rewarding battle. Dotson said it was crucial to keep the community involved.

“Ultimately, we were able to bring together our customers, the community and its elected leaders to organize a global event of this magnitude that attracts people from all over the world, as well as television eyeballs from around the world and a lot of attention that’s drawn to the effort,” Dotson said.

Despite an increase in tourism and capital to Miami-Dade as a result of the race, the noise levels produced by the race are of concern to many residents of Miami Gardens.

Dotson said there were misconceptions about what Formula 1 is and how it works, and community reaction has been a challenge along the way.

“Often it is very difficult to prove a negative, but over the process our credibility continued to grow as we were able to show that one or more misconceptions about Formula 1 were disproved,” Dotson said. “When you have a client who is willing to understand their concerns and understand how to adapt the economic impact and focus on the residents and community of Miami Gardens, that was a welcome challenge and something that I, and we, and our client met. .”

Dotson said one of the misconceptions was that Formula 1 would cause hearing damage to some spectators, while another misconception was that race tracks were normally never in residential areas or close to companies.

‘Extremely disappointed’

Attorney Samuel Dubbin of Dubbin & Kravetz & Associates in Coral Gables represents residents who oppose the race being held in the city and said it believes more can be done to protect the community.

My clients, the black residents of Miami Gardens, are extremely disappointed that county and city officials have failed to protect their rights as residents and property owners, and are authorizing a massive attack on the health and welfare of be people,” Dubbin said. “Everyone knows this race would never happen in any other community in the county.”

Residents of Miami Gardens sued ownership of the stadium, arguing noise from racing cars can cause hearing loss and that the noise level is against the city’s noise ordinance.

However, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan Fine found that no one had provided evidence of actual noise levels and ordered that noise levels be monitored during the race.

“The court, at least, has opened the door to determining the actual noise levels the races will generate and the effects the noise will have on residents’ health,” Dubbin said.

Despite opposition, Pallett Vasquez says she can’t wait to see how the race will benefit the region over the next 10 years.

“I think we’re both excited about the opportunities this has provided for Miami Gardens and the broader South Florida community,” said Pallett Vasquez.” We hope the whole community enjoys it as much as we look forward to it. »

The complex had already received $400 million in upgrades to prepare for Super Bowl LIV, but the stadium’s owners wanted to bring more international events to the site and committed more than $40 million to build a runway. custom race in the complex with the prospect of a 10-year contract. contract with Formula 1.

“From a legal standpoint, I think we can be very proud of the multidisciplinary approach we’ve been able to take when it comes to our assistance to the Miami Dolphins’ incredible in-house team,” Pallett-Vasquez said. . “It involved incredible efforts from our land use department led by Al Dotson, it also involved our corporate and real estate department, and of course our litigation department. I am personally very proud of our ability to work cohesively to accomplish the legal side of things.

For lawyers who aspire to work on such large transactions, Dotson suggested joining Bilzin Sumberg or another well-connected firm.

“When you are a law firm that is connected to business leaders in our community, political leaders in our community, and includes residents of our community and some of the best lawyers, then you bring significant strength to a project. of this nature,” Dotson said. “Your credibility and experience will help seal a deal that can be a win, win, win.”

Practice races for the Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix begin Friday afternoon.

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