The final countdown to Miami is underway. In just six weeks, an all-new sound will be coming from a 74-year-old marine industry institution. The Progressive Miami International Boat Show will open its 75th edition in the new Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin and celebrate the largest relocation of a boat show in history.
There’s really never been a doubt the show would occupy its new home, even though 2015 heard a lot of “noise” in an attempt to scuttle this iconic event. And, while it’s safe to say no boat show staff has ever been faced with more distractions and challenges, they have left them all in their wake.
“Our preparation for what will be an exciting show in a wonderful new location has never slowed,” said Cathy Rick-Joule, boat shows vice president for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We’ve felt the full support of our industry and the Miami community all the way. Extensive plans for all aspects of the event are in place, we’ll be ready and we’re confident everyone will be impressed with our results.”
Construction is well underway on the land section of the show and actually started ahead of schedule. These photos taken last week signal the progress made on the massive clear-span structures on the western section of the park. They are some of the air-conditioned and open-air structures that will house about 600,000 square feet of boat, engine and accessory exhibits. More structures are going up this week on the eastern portion.
But there’s no question the huge advantage of the new Marine Stadium Park location is the adjacent in-water displays. Plans call for up to 700 boats displayed dockside. It means, for the first time, the powerboats that were previously displayed in the separate location at Sea Isle Marina will now be with all the other show exhibits.
Obviously, this combined footprint will offer show attendees far greater convenience than the old convention center site. (Note: Strictly Sail Miami will remain at its Bayside location this year, a pleasant 15-minute water taxi ride from the Marine Stadium site.)
It’s common knowledge the main “noise” against the show came from a few misguided officials in neighboring Key Biscayne. Historically, Key Biscayne has always been at odds with Miami on one issue or another. Traffic and parking issues were the most often cited against the show. But the claims really don’t hold water.
The NMMA, the city of Miami and third-party traffic consultants have constructed a comprehensive parking and transportation plan that includes shuttles, water taxis, VIP and valet parking, public transportation access and a variety of strategically placed public parking options throughout Miami and on Virginia Key.
For example, there are more than 4,000 parking spaces adjacent to the show, nearly double the parking spaces available when the show was in the convention center. An additional 10,000-plus parking spaces are designated in downtown Miami at facilities like America Airlines Arena and Bayside. Free express shuttle buses will run from all parking areas, and those on the water will also boast free service from a fleet of water taxis. In fact, the water taxis alone could transport up to 25,000 people to the show daily. The bottom line on getting to the new show is that it will actually be easier than the old days.
Now that show preparation has rounded third and is heading for home plate, enthusiasm and expectations for success at the event are being reflected in the tide of announcements by major manufacturers of new-model introductions now slated for the show. It ensures that dealers from around the nation will again converge on Miami. And a steady stream of detailed updates can be expected from NMMA between now and1 showtime, which is Feb. 11-15.
It’s important to note that Yachts Miami Beach, formerly known as the Yacht & Brokerage Show, is a separately owned in-water show and has not moved from its traditional location. Yachts Miami Beach will be held along Collins Avenue, as always, as well as at an additional location at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour superyacht marina. It also runs Feb. 11-15.