Key Biscayne is on the hunt to stop a Duran Duran concert from happening during the annual Miami Open tennis tournament.
In a letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a village lawyer warned the county that the planned April 1 post-tennis performance by the British group would violate Crandon Park restrictions that ban most commercial activity at the county park beyond the annual for-profit tennis tourney.
“We don’t want it to become a concert venue,” said Stephen Helfman, a lawyer for the ritzy island enclave.
Tournament owner IMG last month lost an appeals decision trying to overturn the Crandon restrictions, which prevent the sports conglomerate from launching a $50 million expansion of the tennis complex that has been home to the high-profile event since the 1980s. Ticket sales are already under way for the Duran Duran show, with the cheapest seats available for $60.
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The new-wave group best known for 1980s hits Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf would play in Crandon’s 4,200-seat Grandstand tennis court, away from the 14,000-seat stadium set to host the Miami Open’s men’s semi-final match earlier that evening.
In a statement, tournament director Adam Barrett called the Duran Duran show “part of the overall tennis experience.” He said the Open has had concerts in the past, including Hall & Oates in 2000 and Blood, Sweat & Tears in 2001.
“The Miami Open has always worked at providing a total entertainment experience for its guests,” Barrett wrote.
Key Biscayne’s concert protest comes on the heels of the village failing to persuade Miami-Dade to block the Miami International Boat Show from moving to the area surrounding the Marine Stadium on Virginia Key, the island next door. The county used to own the site, which includes deed restrictions limiting activity tied to the stadium itself.
“It’s becoming a little bit of a pattern…. It really goes to the whole principle of whether or not the county is going to live by the agreements it made,” Helfman said. Key Biscayne leaders “see the place as an island paradise, which they’re trying to preserve in the middle of an urban environment.”
But critics of Key Biscayne see the posh waterfront community trying to exempt itself from the occasional traffic tie-ups that hit Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, Doral and other areas that play host to major events. During the boat show debate, officials representing the event questioned why Key Biscayne would try to scuttle one of the biggest tourism draws on Miami’s calendar, and Miami Open advocates raise similar questions over a tournament that draws more than 300,000 people a year.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said Gene Stearns, a Key Biscayne resident and IMG’s local attorney. “I can put up with two weeks of traffic for Miami-Dade County.”
Helfman said Miami-Dade consistently ignores restrictions on commercial activity affecting Key Biscayne’s otherwise placid lifestyle, given the popularity of Crandon and other parks on the island and the fact that a single bridge connects the village to mainland Miami. Boat show officials objected to Key Biscayne trying to block one of the largest tourism events of the year just so that local residents wouldn’t be inconvenienced by temporary traffic jams.
At issue with the Duran Duran show is a 1995 legal settlement that Miami-Dade accepted to resolve litigation over construction of the original Crandon tennis complex. That deal included restrictions on the county park that allowed the tournament to occur each year but bars other large-scale events from the grounds. In his Jan. 15 letter to Gimenez, Helfman said the deal also limits use of the site to “tennis only.” A spokesman for Gimenez was not available for comment.
Helfman wrote Gimenez that Miami-Dade faced a similar situation in 1998, when the tennis tournament — then known as the Lipton — organized a Motown concert with the Four Tops and the Spinners. Helfman said Key Biscayne agreed to not block a settlement where Miami-Dade allowed the show to go on “with the understanding that no further concerts would take place at this site.”
Asked about the other concerts Barrett listed in his statement, Helfman said “each of them violated the settlement between the village and the county.”