Advisory panel could weigh in on future Miami shows

The fate of Virginia Key and the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin could be shaped by a new advisory body proposed by Miami commissioners.

The fate of Virginia Key and the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin could be shaped by a new advisory body proposed by Miami commissioners.

The city commission is planning to consider creating a Virginia Key Steering Committee today for the area that is set to become the site of the Miami International Boat Show in February.

The proposed advisory committee would have a say in the renovation and reopening of long-idled Miami Marine Stadium and the future uses of Virginia Key, a barrier island that connects the mainland to Key Biscayne via the Rickenbacker Causeway, according to Miami Today.

The stadium — abandoned since Hurricane Andrew’s destructive path in 1992 — and the marine basin it fronts off Biscayne Bay — have been the focus of attention and debate during the last year.

“The city and others are interested in developing a long-range plan for the restoration, reopening and promotion of Miami Marine Stadium and Virginia Key,” says the ordinance that would create the committee, according to the newspaper.

The committee’s 11 voting members, each appointed by stakeholders, would not be compensated. One of them would be appointed by Key Biscayne’s village council.

Meanwhile, a group representing Miami hotels added its name to the growing list of public support for the relocated Miami International Boat Show, which has met fierce opposition from Key Biscayne.

“The very real possibility that the Miami International Boat Show — an annual event in Miami since 1941 — may not move forward as planned is troubling,” Wendy Kallergis, president of the Greater Miami and Beaches Hotel Association, said in a letter to the Miami Herald.

Patrons and exhibitors of the show, set for Feb. 11-15, fill about 200,000 room nights in the Miami area, she wrote.

That number might overlap with hotel rooms reserved by visitors and exhibitors at Yachts Miami Beach, formerly known as the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach, because many visitors go to both shows and some exhibitors have displays at both of them.

Yachts Miami Beach, which has run for 28 years concurrently with the Miami International Boat Show, has completely separate ownership and is not affected by the dispute between the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the nonprofit that runs the show, and Key Biscayne.

Although some attendees assumed that the two shows were one and the same, they have always been separately owned and operated. Yachts Miami Beach will be held along Collins Avenue, as always. The in-water-only display presentation covers more than 1.2 million square feet of space over a mile-long strip of Indian Creek Waterway, featuring hundreds of new and pre-owned vessels valued at more than a billion dollars. This year it is adding a location at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour superyacht marina on Watson Island.

There has been increasing support for the Miami International Boat Show after the Miami-Dade County Commission voted to delay a vote required for the in-water portion of the show. The delay was in response to environmental arguments being made by Key Biscayne leaders who oppose the show’s relocation. Boat show organizers have disputed the assertions.

Last week a judge dismissed a lawsuit the village filed against the NMMA.

In her letter, Kallergis said show visitors and exhibitors also go to small boutique hotels and small businesses the group represents and she reiterated the economic impact of the show.

In July, the NMMA announced that the number of room nights available in the boat show’s room block had surpassed 10,000 — triple the 3,300 that were available for the 2015 show.

“It has been a major economic driver and steward of our community for 74 years,” she wrote. “Let’s make it 75 in February.”


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