F1 Hires Former Las Vegas City Manager as Grand Prix COO

Posted on: January 9, 2024, 11:58h. 

Last updated on: January 13, 2024, 11:56h.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix has hired Betsy Fretwell, who served as Las Vegas city manager for eight years, as its new chief operating officer.

Betsy Fretwell,
Betsy Fretwell, who also worked as Switch’s executive vice president of strategy, chairs the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s board of trustees and sits on the boards of Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance. (Image: YouTube/Las Vegas Global Alliance)

“We are excited to add a seasoned professional of Betsy’s caliber to our team,” said a statement from Renee Wilm, Las Vegas Grand Prix’s CEO. “She brings extensive executive experience working in the public and private sectors and will be an immediate asset to our organization.”

As city manager from 2009 through 2017, 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,  residents, and tourists. Fretwell’s duties include supervising the race’s community relations, which are at a severe low point.

The nine months of road closures and construction delays it caused decimated many small businesses, and drastically inconvenienced casino workers and tourists alike. But multibillion-dollar casino corporations claim the race inaugural race resulted in their highest-grossing weekend ever.

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 revenue 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.”