Miami Beach decides not to pursue Ultra for 2020

After spurning Miami, massive music festival needs new home

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – After spurning Miami, Ultra, one of the world’s biggest electronic music festivals, is looking for a new home in South Florida, but it won't be Miami Beach, where it debuted in 1999.

Miami Beach commissioners voted 5-2 Wednesday against opening talks with Ultra.

While a majority of public speakers at the meeting expressed support for the festival, most commissioners decided that Ultra was just too big an event for Miami Beach, among other reasons.

"I think, frankly, thinking outside the box is a good idea," Mayor Dan Gelber said. "I don't think Ultra is a good fit for our city."

Commissioner Ricky Arriola sponsored a measure to allow the city to enter into negotiations with Ultra organizers. He told Local 10 the three-day March mega-concert would fill hotel rooms and serve as counter-programming to what he calls the "chaos" that was spring break this past year.

"Everybody said they want to so something, and one of the alternatives was just to allow the city manager to talk to Ultra to come up with a deal that maybe would be palatable for us," Arriola said. "And we didn't even want to let him talk to them."

Earlier this month, Ultra decided to end its contract with the city of Miami after transportation problems plagued this year's festival in Virginia Key. It had been based in Bayfront Park, but local opposition pushed it to Virginia Key.

When Ultra ended the contract, organizers said they would announce a new South Florida location soon. Millions of dollars could be at stake for these South Florida cities. A 2012 study found Ultra added $79 million to Miami's economy.

So organizers are also eyeing locations to the south.

The Homestead City Council voted Tuesday to allow the Homestead-Miami Speedway to stay open until 2 a.m. should organizers choose the venue.

Commissioners in Miami are considering trying to woo the festival back despite all the recent problems.

"We have to be careful," Commissioner Manolo Reyes told the Miami Herald. "We cannot be running businesses out of Miami."

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