The 2016 bid is due at a time when legislators would be considering any bill allowing Miami-Dade to increase hotel taxes to renovate the stadium, as the Dolphins proposed last year. And with the last Super Bowl costing taxpayers at least $6 million in subsidies and government expense, critics can argue that the game is too costly for a weekend that needs no help on the tourism front.
“Having the Super Bowl the same weekend as Boat Show would be silly,” said Jeff Lehman, general manager of the luxury Betsy Hotel in South Beach and chairman of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. “We already have unrestrained demand for Boat Show.”
Rodney Barreto, the longtime chairman of South Florida’s Super Bowl committee, said both events could coexist on one weekend. And with the NFL expected to bring extra hype to the host of the 50th Super Bowl in 2016, he said that game in particular is worth the effort.
Barreto said the NFL is requiring Presidents’ Day weekend as part of the Super Bowl bid, but Talbert, the Greater Miami tourism director, said the league’s language seemed to allow pursuing only two of three proposed dates. An NFL spokesman was not available for comment Friday.
While the boat show also takes place in downtown Miami, the expo’s largest event is at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Barreto envisions a Presidents’ Day Super Bowl steering clear of South Beach in favor of the Miami mainland and, perhaps, Broward. He noted that while the host committee balked at hosting a Presidents’ Day Super Bowl in past years, Miami now can offer the NFL Marlins Park and a Miami Art Museum for Super Bowl needs.
If more space is needed, organizers could set up tents outside AmericanAirlines Arena or even bring in barges to accommodate the events, Barreto said.
“The potential is wide,” Barreto said. “And by the way, having the boat show in town during Super Bowl weekend — what an incredible weekend. You give people something else to do.”
The last time the Super Bowl came to South Florida, in 2010, the media and NFL headquarters were in Broward. That was in part because the boat show was setting up in the Miami Beach Convention Center due to a quirk in the calendar that brought the events closer to each other than usual.
South Florida could reproduce that arrangement in 2016 or 2017, but a Fort Lauderdale-centered Super Bowl would touch a nerve after Broward commissioners last year voted against spending tax dollars on a Sun Life renovation. Still, the conflict gives Broward an opportunity to claim an even bigger chunk of the business, since its top hotels get almost no bookings from the Miami boat show while Miami-Dade’s beachfront hotels are booked solid.
“Broward County’s venues are available for all of three of those weekends,” Grossman said. “The difference is Broward’s experience would be a beach and oceanfront experience.”
In recent months, Super Bowl organizers approached the boat show about moving to another weekend, but so far both sides say that doesn’t seem to be a possibility.
The show, which debuted in 1941 and says it attracts roughly 90,000 visitors, does not want to share Miami with the NFL. Cathy Rick-Joule, the show’s director, said attendance will likely drop if vendors and buyers must contend with Super Bowl room rates during boat show weekend.
“It’s going to be a huge burden then. I would suspect it’s going to be a big turn-off,” she said. “A lot of our mom-and-pop [exhibitors] are a two- or three-person outfit. They can’t justify spending two or three nights in a hotel for those rates.”