Concert-promotion giant Live Nation to operate Miami's Bayfront Park Amphitheater
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Concert-promotion giant Live Nation has signed a contract to operate downtown Miami's Bayfront Park Amphitheater.
The contract, which includes venue upgrades, has won approval from the Bayfront Park Management Trust and support from the Miami Downtown Development Authority.
Now the contract goes to the Miami City Commission, set to vote July 24 on final approval.
Tim Schmand, Bayfront trust executive director, said "it's nearly a resolution."
Live Nation is to manage and operate the amphitheater, he said, in a 10-year contract with two five-year options to renew.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, new Bayfront trust chairman, said although he wasn't part of the trust during contract negotiations, he reviewed the contract before the board approved it unanimously last month.
"The lease is OK, but I would have liked to have seen more money for the city," Mr. Sarnoff said.
The partnership is to earn the city about $625,000 a year with a 3% increase yearly. The city is also pocketing 10% of name sponsorships and about $2 per ticket as a surcharge. Live Nation is to control ticket prices.
Under the agreement, California-based Live Nation is to pay for capital improvements, renovate the stage, install a new stage roof and add a concession stand area, Mr. Schmand said. It also plans to update seating from benches to individual stadium-style seats, trimming capacity from 10,000 to 6,000 and adding 10 corporate boxes.
A restaurant and rooftop lounge proposal was axed from the final deal, he said.
The company, considered the world's largest concert promoter, already operates performance venues in South Florida, including Miami Beach's Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
The promoter's access to lucrative acts would bring the park new, big-name entertainment options, proponents say.
"It's a benefit for downtown because it's creating compelling reasons for people to come here," Bayfront's Mr. Schmand said.
With Bayfront Park's management costs rising and Miami's budget slimming this fiscal year, Mr. Schmand said this is a good way for the trust to raise funds to manage and maintain the park.
He said in a recent study by a waterfront planning organization, the cost of maintaining a park like Bayfront is about $135,000 per acre per year, which translates to $4.32 million to tend the 32-acre location.
After the contract gets commission approval, Live Nation is to draw floor plans for city planning department approval and seek necessary permits.
While renovation goes on, the venue will be out of service, but Mr. Schmand hopes it's not too long.
The Bayfront trust anticipates the amphitheater is to be ready for a grand unveiling by December or early January.
Live Nation will bring in its concert mix that has proven both profitable and attractive for concert goers, officials say. But the contract states it must consider long-standing events such as Festival del Vallenato, Racine Festival and Bayfront Park's New Year's Eve when scheduling acts. These are three of 10 dates the city and trust have reserved for "traditional" events.
The trust hopes a new marquee will soon accompany a renovated amphitheater. It has hired Ad Systems Inc. to buy, install, operate and maintain the sign.
Mr. Schmand said Ad Systems is obtaining permits for the marquee. The next step is to get the sponsors and build the signs.