Ultra’s one year banishment from downtown Miami may soon be over. A resolution sponsored by Commissioner Keon Hardemon proposes to bring the concert back to Bayfront Park... and a key provision may ensure that Ultra stays downtown for the forseeable future.
The resolution is on the agenda for the Thursday June 27 commission meeting and authorizes city manager Emilio Gonzalez full authority to negotiate and sign a final deal. A draft license agreement is attached to the resolution and cites the 168 million dollar economic impact, as well as the positive marketing for Miami.
Commissioner Russell said he will be voting “No.”
“Ultra and the city of Miami outgrew each other. Bayfront Park is no longer a suitable location for the electronic dance festival. I will vote against this item again when it comes before the city commission,” he said.
There is little in the proposed license agreement that will give any comfort to residents, as the noise limitation stays at 110 decibels and daily attendance increases from 55,000 to 60,000 patrons.
Perhaps the provision that will most concern downtown residents, however, is that termination of the license agreement requires a unanimous vote of commissioners.
Downtown Neighbors Alliance President Amal Kabbani said the resolution was a slap in the face.
"Not only is the city dismissing the health risks to residents caused by Ultra's excessive noise, it is now also asking taxpayers to pay for the security at Ultra," said Kabbani, referring to a one million dollar credit in the license agreement from the city to Ultra for police and fire protection services.
Another provision concerns the resolution of outstanding payments due from Ultra to the city which provides that if the parties fail to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution of amounts due, it will constitute a material breach of the new license agreement.
This provision was added in the wake of a number of vendors being forced to file lawsuits against Ultra for payments due in connection with work done at this year’s Virginia Key event, including contractors that built the docks and worked on setting up water pipes.
County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, whose district includes Bayfront Park, said Ultra belongs somewhere in the more open areas of the county.
"Our bayfront parks should not be used as a vehicle to generate revenues for local governments, particularly when we have just experienced a veritable bonanza of increased real estate taxes," he added.
In a letter sent to “ultranauts” on May 8, 2019, Ultra teased a new home:
“We are now finalizing a new South Florida location that will serve as an incredible and permanent home for Ultra Music Festival. We have been approached by many interested parties over the years with offers to host the festival at some very unique and impressive locales. One of these, however, has shined far above the others, and we look forward to making our home there for many years to come.”
It is unclear what locale Ultra was referencing, but it was clearly not its old home downtown at Bayfront Park.