Miami International Boat Show seeking convention center alternatives

The director of the Miami International Boat Show is meeting with officials from Miami Beach this week to explore options for 2016 and 2017, when the event’s regular venue is expected to be undergoing renovations.

The boat show, an annual draw on Presidents’ Day weekend, will almost certainly have to find another home at least temporarily while the Miami Beach Convention Center is under construction because the parking lot where boats are displayed won’t be available, and only half of the convention center will be open for business.

“We do know, they have made it clear to us that they cannot move down to two halls,” said Bob Balsam, general manager of the convention center.

Balsam said there is always a concern about future plans when a show moves.

“There’s always a fear that if somebody goes to another building and it’s a big success then they might not want to come back,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the boat show, which attracts nearly 100,000 visitors, said any talk about the event moving permanently was “pure speculation.”

The current timeline for the $500 million construction project calls for it to start soon after the Art Basel Miami Beach fair in December of 2015.

Mayor Philip Levine said the city is in a difficult position because events that use the convention center have long been pushing for the dated facility to be updated.

“It’s like renovating a house and the whole family wants to live in the house while you’re renovating the home,” he said. “And that’s difficult if you’re trying to do it on budget and on time. And we’re truly sorry if this causes any hardships for any shows, but this is the same industry that was clamoring for a renovation.”

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