Miami Beach Convention Center Goal Downsized
By Zachary S. Fagenson
With no clear funding source for a Miami Beach Convention Center revamp, a dejected-looking center advisory board asked city commissioners to come up with a new plan by mid-summer.
An acceptable path, many agreed, may be a slimmed-down version of the massive expansion discussed in recent weeks.
Chair Stuart Blumberg convened the group last week after a pair of bills to provide funding for the project died in Tallahassee.
The Beach already has $55 million from the county in its coffers and has spent about $500,000 with design firm Arquitectonica.
With no sure way to pay for the firm’s $640 million vision, the board seemed to agree that a center renovation — new technology and carpeting — a headquarters hotels and ballroom space could be a viable path.
"We could book quite a bit of business with a ballroom," said Bob Balsam, center general manager for Global Spectrum. With a "renovation, host hotel [and] ballroom we could hang onto a lot of business we have."
Convention trade press learned of the funding sources’ deaths soon after the legislative session ended, Mr. Blumberg said, and because planners book events up to 10 years in advance, some shows are already lost.
He circulated a report by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau outlining business lost if the center were to be left as is — about $300 million in economic impact over the next decade for Miami-Dade County as a whole.
Meanwhile, the Beach is looking for another consulting firm, for about $100,000, to help plan everything from pitching the project to the private sector to determining the appropriate size of the center itself, and should soon request proposals.
"The purpose of the report is to say something has to be done," Mr. Blumberg said. "We cannot afford to drag our feet."
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