Though Doral has pledged $2.5 million for next year’s Miss Universe pageant, Mayor Luigi Boria vowed Thursday that taxpayer money won’t be touched since he has sponsors lined up for the event.
“In just two weeks, we already collected more than $1 million in sponsorships,” Boria said, citing Badia, Baptist Health South Florida, Pan Am World Airways and Codina (the developer building downtown Doral), among others, who pledged to sponsor the Jan. 25 pageant.
On Thursday Boria was joined by Donald Trump, Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler, council members Sandra Ruiz and Ana Maria Rodriguez and Florida International University Athletic Director Pete Garcia at the Trump National Doral golf resort.
Even though the pageant, run by Trump, won’t actually happen in Doral — it will be in FIU’s Panther Arena — Boria said events leading up to the pageant, including the coronation ball, parades and fashion shows, will take place in his city.
Trump will match $75,000 in scholarships in return for the pageant using the location.
FIU will be showcased in prime-time television coverage, beamed to about 190 countries. Boria is not worried that it appears FIU may get more publicity than the local city that’s subsidizing the pageant.
“All the activities that are going on during that time, leading up to the event, will be within the city of Doral,” he said.
Doral simply does not have a large enough venue to accommodate the pageant.
The city has committed $500,000 in taxpayer funds, with Boria promising to raise another $2 million from private donors.
Already, businesses have committed to $1 million in sponsorships, Boria says. And he has no regrets in pledging public dollars money because it will be returned, he said.
“We will not have to even touch taxpayer money,” Boria said. “I have the utmost faith.”
Trump said the 100 contestants will stay at the resort during the pageant, and that he couldn’t think of a better place.
“Michael Jordan and Ray Allen just left. They were playing golf,” Trump said. “They thought: ‘this is so great.’”