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Front Page » Top Stories » Out With The Old Miami Beach Mayor Would Like To Move Forward With A New Convention Center After Years Discussing An Expansion

Out With The Old Miami Beach Mayor Would Like To Move Forward With A New Convention Center After Years Discussing An Expansion

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Written by on October 23, 2008

By Scott E. Pacheco
After years of disagreements over expanding the Miami Beach Convention Center, in the end a brand-new facility may be in the cards.

Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower says that would be her preference.

"I would be happy with a new one," she said.

For years, tourism officials have said an expanded convention center would help Miami compete for big conventions. In addition to space issues, visitors have had technology issues and a need for better food preparation facilities, said William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Still, local government hasn’t been on board in the past.

Mayor Bower was part of the Miami Beach City Commission that voted to endorse the renovations in spring 2007 but declined to pledge money or resources to the project over neighborhood improvements.

However, since she was elected in November, Ms. Bower and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez have spoken several times about making the center more competitive.

The collaboration has led to the launching of an almost-completed update of a 2001 Conventions Sports & Leisure feasibility study to see what is needed now to make the center competitive.

The earlier study called for addition of a 50,000-square-foot multipurpose facility. In 2004, Miami-Dade pledged $55 million in Building Better Communities bond funds for the project.

Miami Beach also has hired architects Arquitectonica to prepare a convention center campus master plan for the entire site, Mr. Talbert said, adding that the preparation work is being funded with money from the bonds.

Even though things are moving, there’s no guarantee what will happen, Mayor Alvarez said. "Everybody has an opinion as to what is going to be done and how big."