The Miami International Boat Show is a positive, longstanding tradition in our community — in fact, the show will mark its 75th anniversary when it opens to boating enthusiasts on Thursday.
In our young and ever-changing city, 75 consecutive years of anything is an eternity, and the fact that the International Boat Show has endured here for so long is a testament to its popularity, community value and staying power. Originally, it was based in the city of Miami and — following a lengthy stretch at the Miami Beach Convention Center — I am proud that the show is returning this year to its historic Miami roots at the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin.
If there is a perfect place to host boat show attendees from around the globe while showcasing Miami’s incredible natural beauty and sparkling skyline, the Marine Stadium site is surely it.
In a very real sense, the Marine Stadium Park & Basin was purpose-built to host events like the boat show: The basin itself is manmade and was created to host marine events. The historic stadium structure, built in 1963 and designed by Hilario Candela, then a young Cuban émigré, completes the beautiful campus. Sadly, ever since Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992, this community treasure has remained dormant and largely neglected. Until now.
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The boat show will breathe new life into the Marine Stadium Park & Basin, introducing 100,000 attendees to one of Miami’s most beautiful spaces. It will also put a figurative — and literal — spotlight on the historic stadium building, which will be beautifully lit each night during the show.
Our hope is that showcasing the stadium in this way will jump-start widespread interest in restoring one of our city’s architectural gems. For the city’s part, we are investing millions of dollars in a new flex park on the upland side of the site. This park space will be used by exhibitors during the boat show, and will be open to residents for use throughout the rest of the year.
In addition to reviving the Marine Stadium Park & Basin site, the Miami International Boat Show is a massive economic engine, driving $597 million in annual economic activity.
That activity includes: $83 million in local expenditures by out-of-town visitors and exhibitors; $30.4 million in state tax revenue from sales conducted at the show; $312 million worth of product sales for Florida exhibitors; and support for the 55,000 middle-class Florida jobs created by the state’s boating industry.
What do those figures mean in real terms for Miamians? They mean more guests filling our hotels in Brickell and Downtown, more visitors shopping in our stores and more people dining in our restaurants. All of this activity supports local workers and their families, as well as local businesses — that’s a good thing. For the local marine industry, the show is a critical sales opportunity and often accounts for 50 percent or more of their annual sales. In other words, the Miami International Boat Show keeps local boat builders, not only in the city of Miami, but from Hialeah all the way to Homestead, going strong, supporting thousands of local marine workers.
I’m truly excited for the show to begin this week, and can’t wait for Miamians — as well as visitors from across the United States and around the globe — to experience the new Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin site. It is a boat show after all, and there isn’t a better, more fitting, or more beautiful place to host the show than on the waters of Biscayne Bay.
Tomás Regalado is the mayor of the city of Miami.