MIAMI — The ink was barely dry on the last permit needed for the Miami International Boat Show to move to Virginia Key when NMMA president Thom Dammrich made it official at a packed meeting Thursday of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
“The show is happening,” his slideshow said in big, bold letters.
“You can see them building it right over there,” he crowed, pointing to the tents and docks going up about a quarter-mile to the east along Miami’s Rickenbacker Causeway.
At earlier show updates, Dammrich’s lead slide had asked, “Is the show happening?”
He would answer his own question by saying, “Trust me. It will happen.” And so it will.
Forced out of its longtime venue at the Miami Beach Convention Center because of a multiyear renovation, the NMMA teamed up with the city of Miami to relocate the Feb. 11-15 show to the city’s Miami Marine Stadium property on Virginia Key.
“This going to be an epicenter for the marine industry for a long, long time,” Dammrich predicted.
The relocation has survived a salvo of legal challenges from Key Biscayne, which said it would hurt the environment and snarl traffic on the causeway. The courts didn’t buy it. Nor did the city of Miami, which is undertaking a $20 million upgrade of the property just north of the Rickenbacker Marina.
“This is an ideal location for a boat show,” Dammrich said. “It’s an island paradise.”
Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, president of Show Management, the co-owner of Yachts Miami Beach, formerly the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach, was at the meeting to update the packed banquet room at the Rusty Pelican restaurant on Virginia Key about Yachts Miami Beach, which also will run from Feb. 11-15, but — as Zimbalist stressed — is separate from the NMMA show and will remain at the location on Miami Beach’s Collins Avenue where it has been for 28 years.
Yachts Miami Beach has added a superyacht venue at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina on Watson Island, where the water is 21 to 25 feet deep at low tide and the marina can dock yachts as large as 500 feet. Dane Graziano, Show Management’s chief operating officer, said about half the marina’s 74 slips will be filled for the show.
Transportation and parking were much on the minds of those at the meeting. Dammrich said the NMMA has spent $200,000 working out a parking and transportation plan that provides 10,000 parking spaces in Miami, transportation from parking lots to the show on shuttle buses and water taxis, and platoons of police to keep traffic flowing.
Water taxis will shuttle showgoers between the NMMA show on Virginia Key and Yachts Miami Beach. The taxis will pick up and drop off passengers at a dock on Purdy Avenue near the east end of the Venetian Causeway bridge on Miami Beach and at a dock at the NMMA show site on Virginia Key. At the Yachts Miami Beach end, a bus will shuttle passengers between the Purdy Avenue dock and Collins Avenue.
Yachts Miami Beach exhibitors can reserve vans to ferry customers who want to board the superyachts to the Island Gardens marina on Watson Island.