Bad blood on Doral’s City Council has cost it the 2014 Miss USA pageant and the million-dollar economic impact it would have brought to South Florida.
After being a front-runner to host the beauty pageant, owned by Donald Trump, a recent vote to authorize City Manager Joe Carollo to work to bring the pageant next year had Mayor Luigi Boria cast the lone dissenting vote.
That was enough for Trump, who owns the Doral Resorts and Country Club. Speaking on the phone from Moscow, where Saturday’s Miss Universe Pageant will be held, Trump said he wanted to respect the mayor’s position.
“I have to respect the mayor and the office of the mayor,” he said, adding that he loves Doral and is proud of the work being done to renovate the resort and golf course. “We have many years to go, and frankly Doral is under construction right now, so maybe next year or the year after. But I’m sure in the future we’ll do it there when we have full support.”
The official announcement is expected to be made after Miss Universe on Saturday.
The resolution, proposed by Councilwoman Christi Fraga at an Oct. 9 council meeting, authorized Carollo to “take all steps necessary, including but not limited to, the use of City Staff to secure the City of Doral as the permanent location of the Miss USA Pageant.”
Late Friday afternoon, Boria said he spoke to Trump and discussed construction at the resort.
“It’s a matter of finishing the construction of the hotel,” he said. “I don’t think he’ll be ready.”
Boria said he and Trump were clear about eventually bringing Miss USA to Doral.
“He knows I support the pageant coming to Doral,” Boria said.
The mayor said he voted against the resolution in October because he felt like he didn’t have enough details on how the pageant would impact the city and its resources.
City Council members were disappointed after getting calls from the Trump Organization on Thursday to inform them of the news.
“It’s a shame that what the mayor says and does is making us lose millions of dollars for the city and positive press,” said Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez on Friday. “It was ours to lose.”
Councilwoman Bettina Rodrigruez-Aguilera echoed Rodriguez, saying she hopes the loss from the pageant doesn’t turn into a larger loss in the future.
“My concern is now other organizations follow Trump’s lead,” she said.
Boria has recently faced criticisms for his personal yet public spats with council members and Carollo. The ugliness has captured headlines, particularly after pushing to oust Carollo — a move the rest of the council did not support.
On Friday, Carollo said he had been working with local businesses and other cities in Miami-Dade to raise money to host the event. He said he’d already gotten about $750,000 — three quarters of Doral’s $1 million goal— in hard commitments, and that the pageant would have had an economic impact on the greater Miami area.
“This is much greater than Doral,” he said. “This was a pageant to publicize and show the rest of the country what the greater Miami area has to offer. It was going to showcase the best of the beaches, the best of the City of Miami, the best of our agricultural areas of South Dade and other key focal points in Miami-Dade County.”