Miami Beach is in discussions with events promoter Live Nation to program Spring Break 2020, part of the City’s efforts to tame the rowdy behavior that has marked the annual event here. Commissioners agreed at their meeting this week to put up $1.5 million for the event site, production, and daytime programming while Live Nation would bring the artists and handle ticket sales for evening concerts on the beach. Two big names that have been mentioned: Jimmy Buffett and Pharrell Williams.
The proposal came as a bit of a surprise after an initial effort seeking proposals to program Spring Break in March 2020 failed due to time constraints and lack of City funding. The City then put out a Request for Letters of Interest for 2021 but in discussions with Live Nation, Miami Beach Tourism and Culture Director Matt Kenny said, the promoter indicated the ability to do something quickly if the City would build the venue, a cost they would not have to absorb if they booked an artist into a venue such as American Airlines Arena or Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami Beach CFO John Woodruff told Commissioners the $1.5 million would come from resort tax reserves. In voting to fund the effort, Commissioners are looking to the potential for increased revenue and lower policing costs in the future if it’s successful.
Kenny, said the plan is to program 3-4 weeks in March “but depending on budgets and artist availability [programming] may be 2-3 weeks.” Concerts would take place Thursday or Friday through Sunday evenings while daytime programming would be weeklong and would include health and wellness and athletic activities such as yoga, beach soccer and volleyball, and “ninja warrior-type obstacle courses.” Live Nation would handle all ticketing functions.
ACT productions, one of the groups involved in the Miami Beach Pop Festival in November, is being considered to produce the daytime programming, Kenny said.
One advantage of building a venue for month-long programming, Commissioners agreed, would be utilizing a large area of the beach, probably from 9th to 13th Streets. The City has struggled with large Spring Break crowds gathered on the sand that spill out onto Ocean Drive, often after a day of drinking.
The budget for policing Spring Break this year is anticipated to be $4 million, a number that reflects a ramped-up presence for the entire month of March similar to what was implemented toward the end of Spring Break this year when Commissioners authorized emergency measures to rein in the chaos. Those measures included police in heavy gear wading through crowds on the beach.
Commissioners hope programming Spring Break will have the same success as programming Memorial Day Weekend with the Air & Sea Show and suggested there might be savings to be found in the police budget for that weekend now that the crowds have been calmer.
Kenny will work with Miami Beach Police Chief Rick Clements and internal City departments to flesh out the details. He’ll report back when the Commission meets again on the 25th.
Photo: Spring Break 2019, courtesy MBPD
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