MIAMI (CBSMiami) – City of Miami commissioners said Thursday that they will not block the organizers of Ultra Music Festival to extend the hugely popular event to another weekend.
But, there is a catch.
Commissioners said they will allow the concerts to go forward on back-to-back March weekends for 2013, but reserve the right to deny the following year if problems arise. A sort of “pilot program” scenario.
In addition to the “pilot” provision, organizers will have to pay an additional $500,000 for extra security and overtime for officers patrolling the event and controlling traffic.
This would mark the first year in which the star-studded electronic music festival stretched over two weekends.
Before the meeting, commissioners voiced concern over safety and public health issues.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has said that downtown businesses complain about the electronic music festival when it lasts just one weekend, and cited concerns about the number of concert-goers taking drugs.
“My primary concern is the amount of partying and drug use that goes on Ultra.” Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff told CBS4. While there in no definitive numbers on just how much drug use goes on the event has gained a reputation for common drug use. Sarnoff explained “That might be sustainable on a Friday, Saturday Sunday basis. But I suspect you will have people attempt Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”
He has also argued downtown can’t support the traffic and quality of life for residents.
“You are caging the tenants.” He said.
More than 165,000 people packed downtown Miami last year to attend the giant three-day music party which brings heavy traffic, road closures and detours to the area.
This year, Ultra is scheduled for Friday, March 15th through Sunday, March 17th and Friday, March 22nd through Sunday, March 24th.
If the resolution passes, organizers won’t be allowed to hold the festival for the second weekend.
Miami commissioner Frank Carollo, who is the chairman of the Bayfront Park trust, gave it his blessing as did the rest of the board.
“The bottom line is Ultra brought in $79 million dollars to the economy of this community. So it is an important event. It’s an event that is known internationally,” said Carollo “I’ve been a commissioner for approximately three years now and I have never received so many emails on an issue.” Carollo said.
At last count 7,000 emails have come in..
City commissioners are also expected to vote on whether to disapprove of closing down the northbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard in front of Bayfront Park. If that resolution passes, the city would let the Florida Department of Transportation know it does not approve, but the decision is still left to FDOT.
Ultra organizers say the music festival readied their defense against the commission.
In a letter sent to the City Commission, they wrote, “Ultra has met with the property managers in adjacent buildings who have voiced concerns over the event, commissioned traffic engineers to come up with the least disruptive traffic plan possible, met with the Downtown Development Authority, the Miami Parking Authority, the Miami Police Department, the City of Miami Fire Department, Bayside Marketplace and the American Airlines Arena.”
Festival organizers have also reached out to PortMiami, Miami Dade College and the Adrienne Arscht Center for the Performing Arts to address their concerns, they said.