As a former chairman of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association as well as a longtime member of the GMCVB board of directors, I read with great interest the recent events regarding the convention center as it prepares to begin construction on its renovation.
What really got my attention, however, was the simple fact that nowhere in all the media or activities, no mention was made of the person, who over the past 20 years, was the heart and soul of the effort.
Stu Blumberg, who founded GMBHA and authored the Convention Center Booking Policy, was instrumental in ensuring this renovation would take place.His leadership as chairman of the Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board for more than a decade resulted in the key piece of funding — the 1 percent increase in the bed tax.
Over the objections of then City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, he succeeded in getting the issue on the ballot, then having the Miami Beach Chamber, GMCVB and GMBHA achieve a two-thirds positive vote of the residents. As vice chairman of the expansion effort in 1986-89, his knowledge as the city embarked on this new effort would have been invaluable; however, being on the wrong side of politics outweighed his input.
Finally, earlier this month, city commissioners approved the final plans for the new convention center. Designs for the renovated facility show a wavy white facade dressing the exterior of the 1.4 million square-foot building. Upgrades include about 5,000 square feet of expanded exhibition space, a grand ballroom, junior ballrooms, and 874 on-site parking spaces.
I write this on behalf of all those who worked side by side with Stu, both in the hotel industry and the convention center. We thank him for his untiring dedication. We hope the city of Miami Beach might do the same.
Eric Jacobs, past chairman, Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association, Miami