Miami show moves forward

NMMA says show is a go at new location

Plans to move the Miami International Boat Show to the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin face a number of challenges, but show organizers are confident the 2016 show will offer a number of benefits to attendees and exhibitors.

The show needs to relocate from its long-time home at the Miami Beach Convention Center because of planned renovations there.

Miami Marine Stadium offered “the best and only viable” location to host the show in the Miami area, said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“We certainly did a lot of homework and looking around for viable locations,” said show manager Cathy Rick-Joule. Miami Marine Stadium “made the most sense based on the amount of square footage we required.”

The new location will include 600,000 square feet of exhibit space on land, plus 170 acres of available water with dock space for 700 boats. Exhibits will be housed in a mix of air-conditioned and open-air tents.

The city of Miami has agreed to spend more than $18 million to upgrade infrastructure and the area around the stadium for the show. The stadium itself will remain closed.

Not everyone is happy with those plans, though. The neighboring village of Key Biscayne has filed lawsuits against both the NMMA and the city of Miami, citing concerns about increased traffic and other issues.

The suit against NMMA alleges that the association withheld documents from Key Biscayne that could reveal a licensing agreement with the city of Miami to continue planning for next year’s show at Miami Marine Stadium.

_MG_9474NMMA has filed a response to the lawsuit and asked for an expedited hearing, but on advice of its counsel is unable to discuss the ongoing suit in detail, Dammrich said.

“We remain committed to producing a great Miami International Boat Show,” he said. “We’re very comfortable that our defense will be successful and as a result we’re moving forward.”

The show will be constructing temporary docks at the location, plans which have prompted a coalition of nine environmental groups to challenge NMMA’s application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The groups — the Tropical Audubon Society, Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach, Friends of Biscayne Bay, Friends of Virginia Key, the Florida Keys Chapter of Izaak Walton League of America, the Cypress Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, Sierra Club Miami, Urban Environment League of Greater Miami and Urban Paradise Guild — are concerned about the use of polystyrene foam to build temporary docks in the stadium basin.

Those concerns, though, are related to a different type of dock system that has been used at other unaffiliated events, NMMA said.

The show has contracted with Bellingham Marine and is investing $3 million for docks that are 100 percent EPA-compliant and completely sealed to protect the water and local wildlife.

According to NMMA, these floatation modules are encapsulated, encased in high density one-piece molded polyethylene tubs which are permanently sealed. The design of this type of system ensures a watertight seal and prevents any potential harmful material from entering the environment.

NMMA President Thom Dammrich further responded to environmental concerns in a letter to the editor that was shared with Boating Industry and published in the Miami Herald:

“The National Marine Manufacturers Association has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies like it for years to ensure that we comply with any requirements or concerns surrounding our events. Our efforts at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin are no different,” Dammrich wrote.

“As an organization centered on advocating for the marine industry, we’re acutely aware of the importance of protecting waterways. We represent and work with marine manufacturers and their boating customers who depend on the health of the marine environment for their livelihood and leisure.”

(The text of the full letter can be found at

As for the future of the show, Rick-Joule said the show will continue to have discussions with the Miami Beach Convention Center, but that “we envision the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin to be a long-term home for the boat show.”

The new location will offer several benefits, NMMA said, including a larger hotel room block and increased parking.

This year, the show has more than 30 hotel partners with more than 9,500 contracted rooms, 184 percent more rooms than in 2015, Dammrich said.

The 10,000 parking spaces in downtown Miami, across the bay and 3,800 spaces on Virginia Key are seven times the number of parking spaces available on Miami Beach, Dammrich said.

Transportation plans call for extensive use of water taxis, which show organizers say can transport 25,000 people a day. There will also be a network of free shuttles to transport attendees from downtown hotels and parking to the show.

Strictly Sail is remaining at Miamarina at Bayside Marina for 2016. There will be free shuttles between the two locations, however there are no plans for transportation between the Miami International Boat Show and the unaffiliated Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show on Miami Beach.

“We don’t expect to lose any traffic. We expect to increase our traffic,” said Rick-Joule. “We believe there will be a lot of excitement around the new location.”


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