Pop star Pitbull, Fox representatives and a smattering of politicians and politically connected business people are not-so-quietly negotiating a deal to bring a publicly subsidized, nationally televised New Year’s Eve bash to Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.
The party, with a production cost estimated to exceed $4 million, is planned around a main stage in the middle of the park overlooking Biscayne Bay. As many as 150,000 are expected to attend the event, which would be free to the public save the $325,000 that has been committed by two agencies funded by the city of Miami.
A contract isn’t yet signed, but the hope from all sides is the event will become an annual affair that would pit Miami and Fox as sun-soaked rivals to frosty Times Square, with Pitbull acting as the Magic City’s version of Dick Clark.
“We’ve been working on this for a while. But we still haven’t signed contracts,” said Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo, chairman of the Bayfront Park Management Trust. “It’s still not a done deal, even though I believe we’re getting there.”
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Pitbull and production company Endemol Live announced back in May that the pop artist was planning a New Year’s bash somewhere in his hometown, to be broadcast by Fox. Talks between the pop star’s team and representatives of Bayfront Park and the city of Miami stretch back weeks. But city officials have declined to discuss the event publicly as Fox executives tried to keep details quiet until closer to the event.
The negotiations only became public fodder last week when the Greater Miami Host Committee appeared before the city-funded Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority board to make a pitch for $25,000. Mayor Tomás Regalado, who sits on the board along with the city’s five commissioners, explained that the committee was working out a deal with Pitbull and Fox, which he said already have a three-year deal for a New Year’s event.
Bayfront Park has already committed up to $200,000 in public funds to help pay for production costs. The Trust is also spending an additional $100,000 on police, paramedics and sanitation, an annual expense for the park’s New Year’s blowout, where tens of thousands watch the big orange rise up the side of the InterContinental Hotel.
“What they’re proposing to me is extraordinary,” Regalado said during the meeting. “To have three hours on live television, on the network, competing with Times Square. The only difference is they have a ball and we have an orange.”
According to Regalado, the money pledged by Bayfront Park and the MSEA board were important for Fox, which wanted some kind of commitment by early October. Still, while city officials remain confident the event will happen, Bayfront Park executive director Tim Schmand jokingly said “the negotiating of this contract is going to be bloody and long.”
Along with Endemol and Fox, Pitbull is also working with State Rep. Erik Fresen and Fernando Zulueta, the CEO of charter school management giant Academica, with which Pitbull has a relationship. Fresen said in a text message that Pitbull, also known as Christian Armando Pérez, “is a dear friend” and so he’s helped coordinate meetings, scout locations and handle issues like permitting for Pitbull’s production team.
“It’s going to become a legacy event. Huge for Miami,” Fresen wrote.
Calls to Endemol and Pitbull’s publicist were not returned. A Fox spokeswoman said the network could not immediately comment Thursday afternoon.
Monty Trainor, chairman of the host committee, said last week that Pitbull and Fox want to keep the event under wraps.
“If the word really gets out that Pitbull is there,” he said, “I don’t know where we’re going to put everybody.”