From shade to ground cover
Preparations are full speed ahead for the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on the Strip in November, but residents are less than pleased about the resulting disruption to their lives. The latest problem: MGM Resorts has cut down 25-year-old trees in front of the Bellagio to make room for grandstands along the racecourse.
some right in front of the iconic casino on Las Vegas Boulevard are being turned into mulch
Last year, MGM said that the trees would be safely removed and replanted after the festivities were over. That appears to not be the case. According to local news reports, MGM has said that some trees are being transplanted to area parks and others are being stored to be replanted at the end of the year, but some right in front of the iconic casino on Las Vegas Boulevard are being turned into mulch.
The actual Las Vegas Grand Prix race is on Saturday, November 18, but the entire race weekend runs November 16-18, including practice and qualifying heats. The 3.8-mile course begins at the corner of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane and eventually goes right down the Strip, past the landmark casino resorts.
Locals not onboard
Immediate reaction from locals to seeing trees in front of the Bellagio cut down has been largely one of shock and dismay. Writer Krista Diamond called it “a violent act that shows complete disregard for the plants, animals, and people who call this desert home,” especially considering the trees provided needed shade in an area where there is little. She started a petition on change.org, calling on MGM to pledge to plant new trees.
An X user who goes by “Vegas Steve” questioned: “Why not remove them by the roots and replant them somewhere else,” adding: “Shame on you @bellagio.”
While some were critical of the critics telling them, in so many words, to “cry some more,” others took a middle ground of disappointed resignation.
“Transplanting trees can be a big undertaking depending on the type of tree and size of the root ball that needs to be preserved in order to save the tree,” one person posted on X. “Although I hate seeing this happen to trees it’s definitely more cost effective to just cut it down.”
Even if the trees are eventually replaced, it will take a long time for them to grow into proper shade-givers.
Local workers impacted
The tree removal is not the only thing upsetting locals, just the latest. Tens of thousands of people work on the Las Vegas Strip and anticipate having a very difficult time getting to and from work both during race weekend and in the days on either side of it.
The Nevada Independent reported that Clark County commissioners grilled Las Vegas Grand Prix officials on how they intend to limit disruptions to daily lives. Terry Miller, Racecourse Project Manager from Miller Project Management, said that the monorail, off-site parking, and shuttles could be possibilities for local workers. Temporary bridges are also being constructed to allow traffic to keep flowing, even during the race.
where are they expected to travel?”
Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick sounded unimpressed, asking Miller: “[Employees] cannot walk two miles and then go do their job for eight hours, stand on the hard floor and then walk two miles to get to their car. So where are they expected to travel?”
When Miller clarified that while the race is certainly “impacting the Strip,” it is not closing it down for a week, Kirkpatrick replied: “You might as well. Would have been easier.”