Miami commissioners approved a series of pending agreements Thursday crucial to hosting the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key next year, including a 10-year contract that gives a Medley company exclusive rights to erect tents for special events outside Marine Stadium.
Commissioners gave administrators the ability to sign deals to allow parking on Virginia Key Beach during the massive President’s Day weekend event, as well as access to city-owned marina facilities and the Miami Rowing Club for concessions and other uses. They also agreed to amend a year-to-year license agreement with the boat show’s parent company, the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“We are pleased with the City Commission’s decision, which clarifies that the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association is a licensee of the City with a license to produce the boat show at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin and not a vendor,” Boat Show manager Cathy Rick-Joule said in a statement.
Eventstar, a vendor that erects temporary structures for special events, also received the go-ahead to sign a 10-year agreement that gives the company exclusive rights to erect tents and temporary structures for the boat show and any other event held on an $18 million park and exhibit space being constructed by the city outside the Miami Marine Stadium. Commissioners voted 4-1 on the agreement, with Marc Sarnoff voting against it.
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The contract requires the company to install $350,000 in tent anchors on the site, which city officials describe as a “risk” given that Miami commissioners haven’t committed to hosting any events on the site beyond the boat show and have discussed leaving the facility as a turf-covered park for parts or most of the year.
Thursday’s commission actions come as both the city and the National Marine Manufacturers Association fend off lawsuits by the Village of Key Biscayne. Village officials argue that the boat show and other future special events will clog traffic on the one road in and out of the small residential island, although Rick-Joule and others insist water taxis and other arrangements will keep traffic moving.
Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay issued her own statement Thursday through a spokeswoman, saying Miami’s agreement with the Boat Show is “far more invasive and permanent than they’d like taxpayers to believe.”