Ultra Music Festival set to return to downtown Miami in 2022
In early March 2020, as the realities of COVID-19 just began to place what would become a year-long choke on the global concert industry, it seemed for a moment that the Ultra Music Festival might never again. return to his longtime home at Bayfront Park. The pandemic was just the latest hurdle for longtime EDM event organizers, who by then were already in a two-year battle with wealthy downtown Miami residents who had fiercely turned to each other. opposed to the prospect that one of the city’s biggest – and loudest – annual music events would return to their neighborhood each spring.
In the 15 months since the multi-day event was postponed by the pandemic, the organizers of Ultra and the Downtown Neighbors Alliance (DNA), the association that represents approximately 30,000 residents who live in condominiums in the neighborhood Central Business District and Park West, have managed to put aside their differences and the legal discourse that has hovered over the festival since 2018, opening the door to Ultra’s return to Bayfront Park as the concert industry gradually awakens. .
Ultra, which first took place at Collins Park in Miami Beach in March 1999 in front of 7,000 people, has spent the past two decades growing to the point where organizers have welcomed 165,000 participants from over 60 countries to Bayfront Park in 2017. The 32 Acres The park’s prime location in the heart of a city famous for its vibrant nightlife has helped Ultra ride the tidal wave of EDM’s growing popularity. Its annual itinerary, which runs alongside the equally popular Miami Music Week, makes mid-March one of the busiest times of the year for entertainment tourism.
But in the loud, crazy world of urban music festivals, a fan’s party is a local resident’s sleepless nightmare.
Downtown residents – especially those who live in the dozen condominium towers near Bayfront Park where Ultra performed from 2001-2005 and 2012-2018 – have had to contend with loud decibel levels and tens of thousands of music. fans who flooded the sidewalks in their neighborhood.
Ultra’s relationship with DNA reached breaking point after the hugely successful 2017 event.
In March 2018, the Miami Herald reported that DNA was pushing the Bayfront Park Management Trust (which manages the park independently of the city) to double Ultra’s rental fees to $ 2.5 million per year in the future. Ultra organizers responded by announcing their intention to return to Bayfront Park once more in 2019. A few months later, however, the City of Miami Commission unanimously voted against the offer to Ultra. ” a five-year lease to return to the park, even though the festival brought an estimated $ 168 million to the local economy and created 1,834 jobs in 2018, according to a June 2019 study Billboard report.
“They closed large parts of the park from March 1 to the end of April for the installation and teardown of Ultra,” former DNA president Amal Solh Kabbani once said of the impact of the festival on downtown residents’ access to Bayfront Park. âThis is the perfect time to be outside in our green space. If you could see how this poor park is being abused you would cry.
In response to the September 2018 vote, Ultra took the party to Virginia Key Beach Park and Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park for its 2019 event, resulting in even more headaches for the festival, mostly due to the poor transport logistics for the event and public outcry. local environmentalists.
As the second half of 2019 approaches, Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon has attempted to play the role of peacemaker, sponsoring a resolution to negotiate Ultra’s return to Bayfront Park. In July, the city council narrowly voted 3-2 to allow the city manager to negotiate a deal with Event Entertainment Group (EEG) to allow Ultra to return to Bayfront Park in 2020. To do so, the organizers of Ultra had to pay $ 308,000 in cash. due to the city. The organizers also agreed to lower noise levels from 110 dB to 102 dB, to remove one of the multiple stages set up around the park, to establish a curfew at midnight on Friday and Saturday evenings (10 p.m. on Sunday ), leave the Bayfront Park Children’s Park and Dog Park open to the public and cap daily capacity at 55,000 participants. The city also reportedly maintained the power to cancel the festival every year – in the event, for example, of a global health pandemic.
Despite the momentous deal, Miami city administrators and Ultra were slow to secure a rental agreement for 2020 in November 2019, and in January 2020, residents affiliated with DNA reportedly hired attorney Sam Dubbin to file a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to strike down the committee’s vote in July 2019.
Two months later, COVID-19 rendered the matter moot.
In a strange twist of fate, the quiet year without concerts seems to have been exactly what the music doctor ordered. After months of negotiations that began in the summer of 2020 and continued until last April, Ultra and DNA have finally settled their differences, putting an end to future oppositions and litigation.
Ultra spokesperson Ray Martinez was quoted in a May 2021 announcement: âThis development finally opens the door to establishing an ongoing working relationship between the parties, which was long overdue. Ultra management has had the privilege of working closely with local residents to strike a balance between adapting to local residential lifestyles and hosting large-scale, state-of-the-art music productions. in downtown Miami.
Martinez continued, âMaybe the COVID hiatus gave both parties a chance to catch their breath, if you will, and come to the table without the impending event looming on either side. We really tried to work on the solution to be able to coexist.
As of this week, it’s unclear whether Ultra has yet to officially sign a lease to use Bayfront Park for the festival’s planned return dates: March 25-27, 2022. An Ultra spokesperson declined to comment further New times asked about the status of the 2022 event. The Downtown Neighbors Alliance was also unable to provide details beyond what was disclosed in the May 2021 announcement. Bayfront Park Executive Director Management Trust, Jose Solano, said New times that the park was not involved in the negotiations between Ultra and the city and that he could not comment.
Regardless, the recent deal appears to have paved the way for Ultra’s return to Bayfront Park and set a peaceful precedent for more concerts and festivals in the park as the in-person events return from their induced hibernation. the pandemic. Bayfront Park’s permanent 8,500-seat concert hall, FPL Solar Amphitheater, reopened to full capacity when the Black Eyed Peas took the stage on June 4. The venue, owned and operated by Live Nation since 2008, has hosted several renowned artists. in recent years, notably Kanye West, Dua Lipa, RÃ¼fÃ¼s Du Sol and President Donald Trump. Only two events are scheduled at the amphitheater for the remainder of 2021; one is a concert by rapper Trippie Redd, scheduled for September 19.
While it remains to be seen whether Ultra will actually materialize downtown next spring, the loudest days of the festival, legally speaking, appear to be behind it. Team Ultra can now focus on consolidating the festival’s status as one of America’s premier EDM events as the concert industry comes to life.