Marine Stadium boat show upgrades to cost taxpayers $4M more

Miami Marine Stadium
Miami Marine Stadium

Improvements to land next to Virginia Key’s Miami Marine Stadium, to turn it into a public park that will also be used as an event space for the Miami International Boat Show next year, will cost city taxpayers an additional $4.38 million, The Real Deal has learned.

Earlier this year, the Miami City Commission authorized spending $16 million to convert a parking lot outside Marine Stadium into a so-called “flex park” that would be filled in with grass during the months the area is not being used for exhibition tents for the boat show. The annual event is relocating to Virginia Key next year because its longtime home, the Miami Beach Convention Center, will be undergoing renovations.

According to an Aug. 26 memo from Miami’s capital improvements director Jeovanny Rodriguez to City Manager Daniel J. Alfonso, the project now has a $4.38 million shortfall due to electrical upgrades needed to provide power for the boat show.

During meetings with officials from the boat show’s owner, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the capital improvements and transportation department determined it would need to increase the park’s current capacity from 3,000 amps to 24,000 amps, put in two new feeder lines, and have two electrical buildings instead of one, according to Rodriguez’s letter.

“The change in scope with respect to the electrical items increased the total price of the original estimate for electrical service,” Rodriguez wrote. “The additional electrical items have resulted in the cost estimate of the project to increase from $15,994,093 to $20,441,265.”

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On Sept. 1, Alfonso sent a memo to Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and the five city commissioners to notify them of the shortfall. “The administration will review this information further and come to the city commission with a request for an increase in funding so that the project can be completed per the scope of work needed to meet our contractual obligation,” he wrote.

Back in January, the Miami City Commission authorized a license agreement with National Marine. In exchange, the boat show operator will pay the city $1.1 million in rent plus half of the boat show’s net concessions and parking receipts. In addition, National Marine also agreed to provide $3.2 million for the electrical infrastructure.

Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay, whose village is trying to stop the boat show from being held at Marine Stadium, blasted the latest development as another reason to kill the deal between the city and National Marine.

“The money pit is deepening as the Boat Show’s expansive plans come into view, and taxpayers are going to be footing the bill,” Lindsay said in a statement. “Growing the project’s scope and budget underscores the fact that Virginia Key is unsuitable for an event of this magnitude.”

Through its spokesperson, National Marine declined to comment to TRD about the electrical upgrades.