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Poll: Local residents back new Miami show site

Miami-Dade County residents showed support for holding the Miami International Boat Show in the community in a poll conducted last week.

Miami-Dade County residents showed overwhelming support for holding the Miami International Boat Show in the community in a poll conducted last week, and more than half supported its move to Miami Marine Stadium and surrounding grounds despite opposition from elected officials at a neighboring village.

Miami pollster Dario Moreno surveyed 800 registered voters across the county last week and 87 percent expressed support for the show continuing its 74-year legacy in the community.

A majority of the voters, 51 percent versus 23 percent, favored the show moving to Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin. The remaining voters said they didn’t know.

When asked whether they support the move despite Key Biscayne’s widely documented objections, poll respondents remained firm, supporting the move by 46 percent to 31 percent.

“This poll confirms what we have long believed — that the Miami International Boat Show is well regarded by the Miami-Dade community and that residents want to see our three-quarter-century legacy continue at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin,” boat show president Cathy Rick-Joule told Trade Only in an email.

“The results also show that village of Key Biscayne leaders — and their fight against the show — are badly out of step with the rest of Miami-Dade County citizens, and indeed with the residents of their very own county commission district,” she said.

Key Biscayne leadership has vigorously opposed the boat show’s move to Virginia Key, citing traffic and environmental concerns.

However, poll respondents in district 7, in which the two villages are located, attended the show at a higher rate than all but one of the other 13 districts.

Additionally, 56 percent of surveyed voters in the district supported the show’s move to Virginia Key. When told of Key Biscayne leaders’ objections, surveyed district 7 voters still support the boat show’s move to Virginia Key by a 48 percent to 31 percent margin, larger than the countywide average.

“These results reaffirm what we already knew, which is that the South Florida community embraces the Miami International Boat Show, as well as the local marine industry that it helps support,” Marine Industries Association of South Florida executive director Phil Purcell said in a statement.

“The boat show, along with Yachts Miami Beach, which takes place at the same time, supports an $11.5 billion regional marine industry that employs 136,000 people and has a tremendous year-round impact on the marine businesses that exhibit there and the thousands of jobs and families that those businesses support. It was important for us to understand what the entire community wants, and the poll gave us our answer.”

The poll was commissioned by a group of local businesses, marine industry advocates and labor groups whose employees and members depend in large part on the Miami International Boat Show for their success.

The group includes Captain Harry’s; Cigarette Racing; Contender Boats; Hopkins Carter Marine Supply & Fishing Tackle; the MIASF; SeaVee Boats; Sign, Display & Allied Trades Local Union 1175; and Teamsters Union Local 769.

“Each year, our union membership is heavily involved in putting the Miami International Boat Show together, from move-in to move-out,” said Al Lichtman of the Sign, Display and Allied Trades Local Union 1175. “Without the show, our members would lose out on an important source of income, just as local marine businesses would lose out on a key annual sales opportunity. Our hope is that the boat show — with the community’s clear support — will move forward as planned.”

Meanwhile, a Miami Herald editorial supported the proposal to appoint an advisory board to chart the future mission, vision, business plan, governance and operation of Virginia Key. It also chided Miami for giving the boat show “a pass.”

“For the boat show, deep pilings for the construction of hundreds of docks have been allowed in an environmentally sensitive area,” the editorial said. “For the boat show, the city is spending more than $20 million to turn the land around the stadium into a flex park, which the boat show can use. For the boat show, elements of the 2010 Master Plan for the island have gone by the wayside.”

The editorial also noted the show’s importance to the region and did not call for it to move.

Yachts Miami Beach, a separately run show formerly known as the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach, is not affected by the opposition and will remain at its location along Collins Avenue. See today’s story in Trade Only Today.

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