After losing its home in downtown Miami, FL, where the festival has been located since 2001, Ultra Music Festival has received approval from Miami commissioners to relocate to Virginia Key for its 2019 edition. From March 29-March 31, the EDM-focused festival will be held in the Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park and in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, both on the barrier island of Virginia Key, located off mainland FL.
Ultra released a statement about the move on Facebook. It reads:
'We are excited to announce that the City of Miami has agreed to a deal to relocate Ultra Music Festival to the beautiful and historic Virginia Key. The new venue will allow the festival to evolve into its new, larger home, ultimately creating a more enjoyable experience for all festival attendees. We look forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with our partners at the City of Miami and Historic Virginia Key Beach Park as we commemorate keeping Ultra in the City of Miami.'
The new venue will permit an extended operating time until 2:00 A.M. and will provide the festival with an increased capacity. Attendees will also have vastly expanded space as compared to the former venue, Bayfront Park. Fans will also experience in-tandem staging at both the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park, creating a wholly unique single event space.
Due to the cultural and historic significance of Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and given the unique environmental considerations associated with the park, Ultra Music Festival intends to take extraordinarily great care in its production and remediation approaches. Ultra understands that staging an event at Virginia Key means becoming the entrusted stewards of the environmental and historic elements of Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.
Additionally the partnership will clear a path to accessing approximately $20 million that has been earmarked to build Miami-Dade County’s first African American Museum.
Ultra Music Festival looks forward to hosting fans from over 100 countries to close out Miami Music Week March 29-31, 2019.
As Local 10 ABC News reports, Miami commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of granting Ultra a contract for Virginia Key, with commissioner Ken Russell dissenting. "I received hundreds of e-mails against this event," he said. "They have not yet addressed the wildlife issue and how this level of noise for three days straight might impact manatees, bird sanctuary and the fisheries." Traffic on Rickenbacker Causeway, the only road that provides access to Virginia Key, is also a concern.
Miami Herald reports, "the concerns outlined in considerable detail seemingly meant little to most of Miami’s elected officials. Most of the debate focused on the money." More from Miami Herald:
The original proposal included a minimum $1.4 million fee to the city, possibly more depending on ticket sales. Over hours of discussion, Commissioner Joe Carollo aggressively pushed organizers to bring that payment up to a flat $2 million.
Carollo, in classic form, referenced President Donald Trump while bragging about his negotiation tactics and scolding City Manager Emilio Gonzalez for not squeezing Ultra for more money himself.
“You know what the Donald would say? You’re fired,” he said to Gonzalez.
Commissioners eventually approved the agreement 4-1, with Ken Russell voting no.
Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who sponsored the deal, secured a commitment to dedicate half of the money from the first year toward the effort to build an African American museum in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park — a priority for the city’s only black commissioner and Liberty City native. Virginia Key was a blacks-only beach in the mid-20th century.
Rapture Electronic Music Festival was to hold its 2019 edition over the same weekend on the same Virginia Key site, and has been ousted in the commission's deal with Ultra. Organizers circulated a petition ahead of the vote, and according to Miami Herald, they are now exploring available legal options.