MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The future of Ultra in South Florida seems to be safe, but the globally popular music festival is not returning to Miami.
Ultra released a statement on Twitter late Wednesday afternoon saying it was leaving the City of Miami.
Ultra has taken place every year in Miami since 1999.
Ultra cites fan surveys taken after the Virginia Key experience as one of its reasons for voluntarily terminating its contract. Many festivalgoers complained about logistics and transportation on social media, saying they were left stranded on the island and forced to walk back to the main land.
Free shuttle buses were provided for transportation back and forth, while ride-sharing services were only allowed for drop-offs before the festival began.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez found out about Ultra’s decision a few minutes before it was announced, adding that he does not blame organizers after all the back-and-forth over venue locations.
“I’m sad to see them leave, [but] happy for the residents that were negatively impacted,” said Mayor Saurez.
While Virginia Key falls under the city of Miami, Key Biscayne was highly impacted by this year’s location.
“Ultra was never the issue [however],” said Key Biscayne Mayor Michael Davey. ‘[The issue was] about having 60,000 people on our only way in and out, our only road.”
While Ultra brought business for Miami hotels and restaurants, Mayor Davey said he actually saw the opposite impact.
“Our businesses took a hit,” said Mayor Davey. “State park [hit a] low, which translates into loss of business for our business owners.”
On top of that, Mayor Davey said they had to spend about $100,000 on public safety and having round-the-clock first responders. He said he enjoyed his interactions with festival-goers who did make their way to Key Biscayne and welcomes them back anytime, on more ‘casual’ weekends.
The two mayors plan on working together to make use of Virginia Key still. Miami had already invested $16 million for other events.
Mayor Suarez said it cost nothing to get Virginia Key ready for Ultra specifically, but the three-day festival brought about $2 million annually.
According to the statement, Ultra is finalizing a new South Florida location that could be a permanent home for the festival.
A formal announcement about Ultra’s future will be made soon.
Mayor Suarez said he’s happy at least that Ultra is staying close.
“It’s important they stay in South Florida. Everyone knows South Florida as Miami,” said Mayor Suarez. “[We need] to maintain ourselves as the musical capital of the world during that time.”
CBS4 reached out to the City of Homestead to ask if a potential venue target for Ultra has been considered; Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Homestead City Manager George Gretsas responded with the following statement:
“Homestead Miami Speedway has contacted the City about potentially hosting the Ultra Festival at their facility. We are anticipating additional information from them soon and once we have something specific we will be bringing the issue to the Homestead City Council for their consideration.”
Police say they are working to extradite Gibson back to Miami to face criminal charges.