Seems like every day the Progressive Miami International Boat Show is making news — or I should say someone is making news about it. As I see it, it’s all a harbinger of great things to come.
The latest news is that the Village of Key Biscayne hired a public relations firm to “shape public opinion” about the show’s move to Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin and the presumed negatives of the relocation.
Speaking as an old PR man, that’s one assignment I wouldn’t want. The negatives simply aren’t going to be there. The reputable PR firm, Schwartz Media Strategies, touts itself as “storytellers, brand creators, conversation starters and people connectors.” Well alright, then, short of propagating misinformation, the only real stories for Schwartz to tell will be how the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the City of Miami are doing everything right.
Having listened to a webinar on the show last week, it’s abundantly clear the NMMA has been addressing area concerns in its extensive and exciting plans for the new show site. For example, it’s a huge myth that traffic and parking will be a hassle.
Extensive plans are already in place including 3,800 parking spaces on Virginia Key for exhibitor and VIP parking at the show (that’s seven times more spaces than at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Moreover, there will be a dedicated lane going to Key Biscayne; there are 10,000 parking spaces across the causeway in downtown Miami; they will be connected to the show by free buses and free water taxis, the latter alone capable of moving 25,000 people per day; and free water taxis will also continually move to and from Strictly Sail at Bayside.
Finally, regarding traffic management, there is an extensive plan that will designate special routes to the big Coconut Grove Art Festival (Feb. 13-15) that takes place on boat show weekend, which will avoid hassles for attendees of either event.
No matter who I talk to, it’s unanimous that the best thing about the new site is that, for the first time in 75 years, 700 boats of unlimited size will be in-water immediately outside the main show exhibits housed in huge air-conditioned structures. Some $3 million in new, environmentally safe Bellingham docks are being constructed as you read this. Only about 25 percent of the 170-acre Marine Stadium basin will actually be used in 2016.
The actions of Key Biscayne (a meritless lawsuit, a PR campaign) and the baseless concerns of some environmental groups about docks remind me of a kid’s temper tantrums. The political motivation and orchestration is obvious. One thing’s for sure: Everyone will know when and where the new Miami show is in 2016.
It’s important to recognize that what these haven’t done is distract the City of Miami from moving forward with the site infrastructure work or NMMA vice president and show manager Cathy Rick-Joule from assembling a veteran team to put together extensive plans. To randomly note a few: In addition to three restaurants on site, customized specialty foods and entertainment will be included; exhibitor/customer VIP programs are in design; 600,000 net square feet of exhibit space is being detailed out with a lot of exhibitor input; special dock configurations are in design for exhibitors; and much more.
Overall, Rick-Joule and her staff have started with nothing but some open water and a piece of bare land. Starting from absolute scratch is a show manager’s dream (I’ve done it) because it adapts the venue to the boat show rather than the boat show having to fit the limitations of a convention center.
From what we already know, there’s no doubt this will be a great Miami show. I expect it will be even greater than it’s been at the convention center. Show dates are Feb. 11-15. My advice: Book a hotel room(s) now at www.miamiboatshow.com