FORT LAUDERDALE — The Progressive Miami International Boat Show faced “some challenges” in 2016 at its new venue at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key, but “we’ve learned a lot,” National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said.
Speaking Thursday at a Marine Marketers of America meeting at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Dammrich said the upcoming Feb. 16-20 NMMA show is “sold out” on land and has expanded its in-water capacity by 40 percent, to 550 to 575 boats. The show is permitted to have as many as 830 boats in the water, he said.
Transportation — bus and water taxi — was the biggest challenge. The water-taxi system was designed to carry 25,000 people to the show last year; it carried 52,000. Dammrich said the NMMA will increase the number of water taxis by 50 percent, boost their capacity and dispatch them from four sites instead of seven to increase the frequency of departures and reduce waits.
“Our capacity will be 25,000 persons a day,” he said.
Show Management, which produces a separate boat show, Yachts Miami Beach, on Collins Avenue on the same dates as the NMMA show, will run shuttle buses between the two shows. No water taxis will run between them in 2017.
Water taxis will leave for the NMMA show from Bayfront Park, American Airlines Arena, the Hyatt Hotel, and the W Hotel Miami; shuttle buses will leave for the show from Marlins Park, Bayfront Park, American Airlines Arena and the Hyatt Hotel. Shuttle buses leaving Miami will number 14 or 15, Dammrich said.
Dammrich said the show will not extend as far west toward the mainland as it did in 2016. The section of the show between Whiskey Joe’s and the Rusty Pelican will be discontinued. Food and beverage will be much improved with a new vendor, Great Performances.
There will be VIP parking at the Seaquarium, and VIP food service and entertainment on the Biscayne Lady. There will be more restroom facilities and they will be clearly marked with giant balloons.
The tents will be laid out better and will have LED rather than fluorescent lighting, which should deliver 30 percent more lumens. Parking spaces in Miami will number 10,000, and there will be 4,400 on Virginia Key.
Dammrich strongly recommended that those who attend the NMMA show stay at a hotel in downtown Miami to take the best advantage of the bus and water taxi service.
Yachts Miami Beach, which runs concurrenty with the Progressive Miami International Boat Show, but on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, also will come on line in 2017 with a number of significant changes.
Co-owned by the Florida Yacht Brokers Association and Show Management, Yachts Miami Beach will have a revamped layout, entrances, a first-time entrance fee of $20 and beefed-up transportation to and from the show.
Show Management hired EDSA, a landscape architecture firm, to completely change the show’s layout, look and flow. Docks no longer will extend from the sidewalk along Collins Avenue, an arrangement that required visitors to travel from section to section along the sidewalk. Instead they will be able to traverse the show on docks on the water connecting the sections.
There will be more restaurants out on the water so people can dine near the boats. Water taxis that will run from the parking lots to waterfront entrances will help visitors and exhibitors avoid Miami Beach traffic.
Free shuttle buses will transport show-goers between Yachts Miami Beach and the Progressive Miami International Boat Show. There will be multiple entrances, some on the water.
Water taxis will run north to 67th Street and south to the end of Indian Creek. There also will be a new VIP experience on the water that includes a yacht and an on-water veranda.