Miami International Boat Show 2016
The 2016 Miami International Boat Show has come to an end. Initial reports indicate the show was a success despite some kinks related to the venue change.
By Rupert Connor
When the Miami Beach Convention Center renovation began, the Miami International Boat Show was displaced. Options for the 75th year of the show were explored. Ongoing renovations by the City of Miami at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin presented the potential of a new location which provided additional features for the show. A two year (2016 and 2017) contract was negotiated for the site on Virginia Key.
Some background on the site. Miami Marine Stadium was originally built - and the basin dredged - as a powerboat racing venue. After its 1963 dedication, the 6,566 seat stadium also became a premiere concert site. In the wake of Hurricane Andrew, the Miami Dade building code declared it unsafe and it was shuttered for 20 years. The efforts of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium initiated restoration of the site. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has recognized the 326 foot cantilevered concrete stadium as an architectural masterpiece.
Despite objections by environmental groups and an ongoing lawsuit by the Village of Key Biscayne, the Miami International Boat Show has a home for at least another year. The new site added in-water and open-air land exhibits to the show features. On-water demos and instruction were highly promoted prior to the event. 400 boats in the water, marine classes, on site sea trials, and issuing fishing licenses were all reported to be hits with attendees.
Traffic gridlock had been predicted – both on the causeway and in the bay. Show organizers heavily promoted the use of shuttle buses and water taxis – putting more into service in response to long wait times on day one. Concerns about the availability of bathroom facilities on site were also addressed. By the second day of the show, visitors reported shorter lines for both.
Strictly Sail and Yachts Miami Beach are traditionally scheduled to coincide with the Miami International Boat Show. Strictly Sail remained at Bayside Marketplace and Yachts Miami Beach (rebranded from the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach) expanded to Watson Island from its established base in the Indian Creek waterway along Collins Avenue.
Year one at the new venue appeared be a hit with attendees, with the traffic up on the docks by 4% and sales projected to exceed last year. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) said the “show exceeded expectations…..and raised hope for a long and successful run” at the site.
What is the future of the show beyond 2017? While the four day show generates $597 million in annual economic activity, some hurdles remain. Groups citing the environmental impact of the show on mangroves, manatee zones, and water quality are protesting the location as a show venue. There is the ongoing lawsuit by Village of Key Biscayne against the City of Miami over construction rights. The City of Miami Commissioners are poised to assess all factors and evaluate the environmental studies before determining exactly what the long term future will be for the Miami International Boat Show at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin.