Two Miami-Dade commissioners defended the county's deal with Resorts World Bimini to dock its SuperFast cruise ship at PortMiami.
The Board of County Commissioners approved the deal Tuesday. Despite the approval, and a splashy debut party Friday for a maiden voyage, the ship has been docked by the United States Coast Guard because of its failed safety inspection.
"It gives the tourists or just even the Miami residents a chance to be able to go to an island," said Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.
Edmonson and Lynda Bell cemented the deal during a recent junket to Singapore with Resorts World owner Genting Group, whose plans for a casino on the bayfront lot it bought from The Miami Herald were thwarted by the state legislature. The company has since opened a casino resort in Bimini, Bahamas, and its twice-daily cruises can take 3,000 people there from Miami.
"I don't think there is any cost to Miami-Dade tourism," said Bell. "I think it actually brings people to Miami-Dade County. You have two ships per day, you have a lot of income stream that's going to be coming in to Miami-Dade County."
Resorts World agreed to pay Miami-Dade County $7 million a year for the next 10 years. Miami-Dade will fund $10 million to develop the terminal at the port, and about $700,000 for temporary facilities.
Edmonson said the South Florida tourism industry and its racinos and parimutuel gambling houses haven't registered any opposition.
"Not one word," she said. "No one has called me. No one. If I had any inkling that may be they did have a concern, then may be I would've reconsidered."
Some opposition has been registered in Bimini by purists who are not anxious for the crowd and development on the Bahamian island.