As tickets go on sale for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July, the city of Miami is pushing through legislation that would temporarily punish scalpers, keep away street vendors, and limit advertising around Marlins Park and satellite events downtown.
Under an ordinance going before city commissioners Thursday, commercial handbills and free samples would be illegal in “clean zones” during the week of the July 11 game. Some of the city’s 400 licensed street peddlers would be barred from hawking their wares. Commercial banners, flags, human billboards and the sale of knock-offs would also be prohibited, with penalties reaching as high as $500 for violations.
“It’s a very narrow zone, but it’s important for Major League because of the memorabilia sales,” said Mayor Tomás Regalado, who is co-sponsoring the legislation with Commissioner Frank Carollo.
It’s important for Major League because of the memorabilia sales
Mayor Tomás Regalado
Premised on the need to keep sidewalks and streets clear and safe for large crowds, the city’s temporary law was promised as part of its bid to Major League Baseball for this summer’s game. The event comes to Miami along with the Home Run Derby, a Bayfront Park block party, a parade, and an All-Star concert, along with the five-day Fan Fest on Miami Beach.
Though sometimes controversial, clean zones have become commonplace for major sporting events, and have been implemented in cities such as Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and New Orleans for previous All-Star games and Super Bowls. For the leagues, which make money off of sponsorships, the restrictions help stop outside advertisers from pushing their brand into the event by landing deals with nearby businesses or homeowners, otherwise known as “ambush advertising.”
Counterfeiters and ticket-scalpers are also targeted, as are street vendors, although the law doesn’t affect those licensed to sell food and drinks.
The clean zone is established to prevent ambush marketing activities
Deputy City Attorney Barnaby Min
“The clean zone is established to prevent ambush marketing activities (and the sale of counterfeit items) which hurt the commercial interests of the event and the entities that assist in underwriting the all-star week activities,” Deputy City Attorney Barnaby Min wrote in a text message.
But clean zones have drawn lawsuits in recent years. At least twice, the ACLU has sued cities, arguing that their legislation was overly broad and gave a private sports league authority over public permits. Miami’s legislation, for instance, requires that any exceptions to the temporary prohibitions must be authorized by both the city and Major League Baseball.
City Manager Daniel Alfonso said Tuesday evening that he expects some further tweaks and clarifications to the legislation in order to avoid any issues with the First Amendment. Min said the ordinance is intended to address only commercial sales and advertising.
Attempts to reach ACLU executives were unsuccessful. Major League Baseball did not respond to a Tuesday afternoon request for comment.
Regalado, whose 2017 budget includes $2 million to support the All-Star Game, said the proposed law shouldn’t prove to be a burden for locals. He said the point is to keep hustlers from around the country from flooding Miami with knock-offs.
“I don’t think this will affect the locals at all,” he said.