The $600 million renovation and expansion of the Miami Beach Convention Center is 39 days behind schedule, which will affect the first event to be held in the facility this year.
The World OutGames, an international 10-day sporting event scheduled to begin May 26, will have to hold a conference on human rights and an opening ceremony somewhere other than the convention center because a kitchen won’t be finished in time. Other OutGames activities are still expected to take place in two convention halls.
The OutGames, which are hosted by the LGBTQ community and allies, are expected to draw thousands of participants and spectators.
Ivan Cano, CEO of the OutGames, told commissioners on Wednesday that the organization is scouting locations in the Beach and on the mainland to accommodate the events that can’t be held in the center.
The city “has been very diligent and extremely helpful in finding a new venue for us,” Cano said.
Planning, permitting and design changes slowed work in 2016. The convention center has been pushing to catch up on construction during a total blackout period in recent months. Since Art Basel 2016, no events have been held in the building, which is currently partially demolished. The December 2016 to May 2017 blackout period is the only stretch of time during which the center is completely shut down during construction.
Since Art Basel 2016, no events have been held in the building, which is currently partially demolished.
Maria Hernandez, Miami Beach’s project director for the convention center district, said the facility will be ready for rest of the scheduled OutGames activities and for a list of 11 more booked events through the summer and fall. Two halls will be open for these events. The next event to use all four halls will be Art Basel in December.
“It may be possible to make up the time in 2018, but it is too early to determine at this point,” she said.
The delay came up during a discussion about the city’s financial commitment to the event at Wednesday’s City Commission meeting. To date, the Beach has donated $200,000 to the Outgames, and two more $100,000 payments would be triggered by certain fundraising milestones that Outgames organizers have yet to reach.
Of the donated cash, $50,000 was supposed to rebated back to the city. But the City Manager Jimmy Morales said the city wants to assist the OutGames because fundraising has been slower than expected.
Wednesday, commissioners voted to forgive the $50,000 loan and waive several thousand dollars in city fees associated with using public facilities.
Cano later told the Herald he was grateful for support from the city.
“The momentum continues to build for this global event and our sports, culture and human rights events will go on as planned with some just taking place at other venues.”