Ultra Music Festival gets new home on Virginia Key for at least one year.


Ultra Music Festival has a new home on Virginia Key for at least 2019.

Miami commissioners approved a contract to allow the electronic music festival to stage the three-day event on Virginia Key March 29-31, 2019.

After a full day of public comments and debate among commissioners, Ultra agreed to pay a guaranteed $2 million to the city under a licensing agreement to hold the three-day event at two locations of Virginia Key — in the park outside the Miami Marine Stadium and in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.

Commissioners approved the agreement 4-1, with Ken Russell voting no, after they heard objections from Key Biscayne residents who fear huge traffic snarls on the Rickenbacker Causeway, environmental activists who raised concerns about loud noise harming wildlife and captive research animals on the island, and a smaller music festival that already planned to hold its event in the same space.

In the end, most of the debate among Miami’s elected officials focused on the money. 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.

Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who sponsored the deal, secured a commitment to dedicate half of that money in the first year toward the effort to build an African American museum in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.

The agreement is a revocable licensing agreement with no term, meaning the deal can be revoked about a year before the following festival.

The new agreement comes more than a month after the city rejected a deal to keep the festival in downtown’s Bayfront Park.

Hardemon pushed for approval. The opportunity to help the museum come to fruition loomed large as he implored commissioners.

“This is an opportunity to put a greater amount of dollars in the Virginia Key Trust,” he said.

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