Miami weighs deal to keep Ultra downtown until 2027

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Photos from day three of Ultra Music Festival Miami on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

Ultra Music Festival could stay at Bayfront Park until at least 2027 under a renegotiated deal with the city agency that manages downtown Miami’s waterfront parks.

The terms of the deal that sees organizers bring the annual three-day electronic music festival to downtown Miami remain largely the same, though the city would increase Ultra’s fee by one each year. higher percentage than before.

On Thursday, the commissioners could approve the terms of a new revocable license agreement between Ultra and the Bayfront Park Management Trust, a semi-independent agency responsible for Maurice A. Ferré Park and Bayfront Park.

In April, the commission voted unanimously to revoke an earlier agreement with city hall administrators and return responsibility to the Trust, which is chaired by Commissioner Joe Carollo and has in years past managed deals with Ultra. Oversight of the Ultra deal shifted to the city manager’s office when in 2019 the festival relocated to Virginia Key for a year after a dispute with downtown neighbors and political fights led to the eviction of the Bayfront Park festival.

Given the unanimous vote in April, the new deal could pass without debate on Thursday.

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Masks were all the rage when 18-year-old Saul Fernandez from Bolivia danced with friends on day three of Ultra in 2017. The chunky beaded bracelets he wears are called “kandi,” and they’re traded by ravers at EDM shows. MATIAS J. OCNER For the Miami Herald

The Trust has negotiated the proposed agreement and sought approval from the commission. Carollo and the Trust’s board would control Ultra’s income going forward. The commissioner said the money could be used for the upkeep and improvement of riverside parks, although commissioners Manolo Reyes and Ken Russell have suggested some of the money could support the city’s general fund . Carollo said he would be willing to transfer excess funds from the Trust to city coffers.

The new proposal is an annual agreement that allows the city or Ultra to revoke it for a period of two months after the annual event, which takes place the last weekend in March. But unlike the previous agreement, the year-to-year arrangement is not indefinite, the new proposal provides for the agreement to automatically end in May 2027. This end date would require the Trust and Ultra to come back to the negotiating table in 2027 if they wanted to continue to organize the festival in Bayfront Park.

Another negotiated change: an annual rent increase of 4% on base rent of $2 million after the 2023 festival. Under the previous agreement signed in early 2020, Ultra was to pay $2 million with annual increases of 3%. The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the 2020 and 2021 festivals, and the city has agreed to keep fees at $2 million this year and in 2023 accordingly.

Other key terms, including how long Ultra can close public access to the park and the festival’s hours of operation, remain unchanged. Many of these issues have been the subject of years of conflict between residents of downtown high-rises and the festival. The festival settled the long-running dispute with neighbors in 2021 under terms that have remained largely confidential. This year’s event went well, and city officials said they received very few noise complaints.

Joey Flechas covers government and public affairs for the City of Miami for the Herald, from votes at City Hall to neighborhood news. He won a Sunshine State Award for exposing a Miami Beach political candidate’s ties to an illegal campaign donation. He graduated from the University of Florida.

David H. Henry