The city of Doral is kicking in $2.5 million for next year’s Miss Universe pageant, with Mayor Luigi Boria predicting the Jan. 18 event will be “an important economic stimulator for the community.”
There’s just one minor detail: the pageant itself, run by Donald Trump, won’t actually be happening in Doral — although some events, including the Coronation Ball, will be in Doral.
Come January, nearly 100 glamorous contestants from around the globe will converge at Florida International University, located a few miles away in unincorporated Miami-Dade. The university Wednesday evening had not yet announced it would host the pageant, but the Miami Herald confirmed FIU as the pageant site through multiple sources.
That means that the prime-time TV coverage, which is also beamed out to about 190 other countries, may showcase FIU more than the local city that’s subsidizing the whole affair. Doral has committed $500,000 in taxpayer funds, with Boria promising to raise another $2 million from private donors to support the billionaire’s extravaganza.
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The city, joined by Trump and current Miss Universe Gabriela Isler, have scheduled a Thursday afternoon press conference to discuss the upcoming pageant. That press conference will be held within Doral city limits — at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort. It’s likely that contestants will stay at the resort during the pageant as well.
Reached late Wednesday, Boria said he has no regret in pledging money to the mogul, “because ultimately it will benefit the city of Doral.”
“What is important is the activities that are going on during that time ... we want to open the city up to all the activities, including International Mall if they want to do any presentations,” Boria said. “Most of the show will be held in the Trump National, I think.”
Boria said the pageant organizers “must know better than me.”
A call to a Miss Universe representative was not returned late Wednesday.
Doral Vice Mayor Christi Fraga last month cast the lone “no” vote against contributing money to the pageant. Fraga was supportive of Trump bringing his event to town, but argued it shouldn’t be subsidized by taxpayers.
On Wednesday, Fraga said Doral leaders always knew that the actual televised pageant competition would never be held in their city — there’s simply no venue in Doral large enough to host it.
“I think there are better ways to utilize those funds,” Fraga said. “There was never an action plan that detailed how the $2.5 million will impact the residents and business owners. I could not stand in front of a resident and justify those funds.”
Miami Herald Staff Writer Joey Flechas contributed to this report.