Miami Beach

Could giant ads and parks named after corporations solve Miami Beach’s budget woes?

A billboard on Ten Museum Park on Biscayne Boulevard photographed on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Miami Beach is considering selling outdoor ads on its parking garages.
A billboard on Ten Museum Park on Biscayne Boulevard photographed on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Miami Beach is considering selling outdoor ads on its parking garages.

Parks named for corporations, ads on the outside of parking garages and flip-flops emblazoned with the Miami Beach logo.

These are a few of the ideas Miami Beach is considering to raise money as the city faces financial constraints caused by rising personnel costs and a lack of new development.

The proposed merchandise and advertising initiatives could bring in more than $4.7 million a year, which city officials hope to use for arts and education programs.

“Revenue like this is really exciting because we can help to fund programs that may not have a strong funding source already,” said Tonya Daniels, the director of Miami Beach’s marketing and communications department.

Daniels has proposed selling naming rights for the new Miami Beach Convention Center, which is currently under construction, and for some public parks. This is similar to selling naming rights for sports facilities, such as AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami. If the prices for naming rights at convention centers in other cities are any indication, putting a company’s name on the Miami Beach Convention Center could generate $1 million a year or more for the city, according to preliminary estimates.

Daniels has also suggested selling advertising space on the outsides of Miami Beach’s free trolleys and on the Fleet Building, a city building on Government Cut, in addition to parking garages. Cruise ship passengers leaving PortMiami would see any ads placed on the Fleet Building; last year, 5.3 million passengers visited the port.

Official Miami Beach souvenirs are another option. The city already has its own line of sunscreen products, which was created in 2014 with the help of a company called Destination Brands International. The sunscreen, which Daniels said is popular with international visitors, is sold by major retailers and has generated more than $71,000 in royalties for the city. Miami Beach is moving forward with plans to create other souvenirs, which could include T-shirts, beach towels, hats and bags.

17st garage-1.jpg
An image showing what outdoor advertising might look like on a public parking garage at 17th Street in South Beach. City of Miami Beach

The City Commission’s finance committee gave the ideas an initial thumbs up last week, authorizing the marketing and communications department to start the process of finding companies to sell the ads and naming rights. Any deals would need final approval from the commission.

But some of the advertising initiatives could meet resistance from elected officials and residents. Outdoor ads have generated controversy in downtown Miami, where the city makes several million dollars a year from fees charged to advertising companies. Previous proposals in Miami Beach, including a 20-year deal with Carnival Cruise Lines in 2012 to rename South Pointe Park for $198,000 a year, failed to get final approval.

Commissioner Micky Steinberg said she was open to considering some of the proposals, but had concerns about others, including the park naming rights.

“Overall we are a city with an amazing brand and image and I’m not looking to sell every inch to the highest bidder,” she said. “At some point it is eye pollution.”

Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán said she also had concerns about the park naming rights and about ads covering trolley windows, which she worried could make visitors feel unsafe. She said she loved the idea of using the Miami Beach logo on merchandise, however. “There are so many beautiful things that could be done with it that don’t detract from who we are,” she said.

Commissioner Ricky Arriola, chair of the city’s finance committee, said that as Miami Beach struggles to find funding for arts and education programs, he believes all options should be on the table.

Miami Beach’s projected spending exceeds the city’s expected revenue from property taxes and other sources, so officials must trim $4.5 million from the budget for the next fiscal year. The finance department has recommended a number of cuts including reducing or eliminating raises for employees and getting rid of the city’s two-person Rapid Response Team, which fixes urban annoyances like debris blocking drains and fallen traffic signs.

“If you look across cities across America and even here in Dade County, outdoor advertising is nothing new,” Arriola said, noting that selling ads on the outside of public parking garages alone could generate more than $3 million a year. “In a budget environment where we’re desperately trying to fund cultural programming and education initiatives, $3 million will go a long way.”

The Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association, which represents residents in an area with several public parking garages, declined to comment on the proposals because the association hasn’t had a chance to consider them. Miami Beach United, a nonprofit community group, also said its members hadn’t had a chance to discuss the initiatives.

Contact Kyra Gurney at 305-376-3205 and @KyraGurney