By Dorie Cox
The Miami Yacht Show has seen its share of changes, but few as large as the plan to move next year’s show to downtown Miami. For most of the past 30 years, the show has been held on Collins Avenue on Miami Beach.
The move would set the show near the Intracoastal Waterway on waterfront property located between the Venetian and MacArthur causeways bought by Resorts World Miami LLC, a Genting Company in 2011.
Use for the site, named Herald Plaza for the Miami Herald building on the property until 2015, has been been under negotiations and plans have included an attempt to build a casino and ongoing plans for a marina. The 14.6-acre property is currently leased to Loud and Live as an event space.
This is the first year that Informa and Show Management worked together on the show. Last March, the London-based Informa purchased Yachting Promotions, the parent company of Show Management, which manages and produces the show. Informa brings its experience as operators of about 200 industry events each year and owns the Monaco Yacht Show. Informa co-owns the Miami show with the International Yacht Brokers Association (formerly the Florida Yacht Brokers Association).
A veteran of the annual February show, Bob Denison, president of Denison Yachting, said the move will benefit yachts, vendors and visitors.
“I absolutely love it,” Denison said by phone from the docks on Collins Avenue after the show on Saturday. “Part of me is going to miss this forever. But there are certain challenges to the Collins location.”
The current location of the show is constrained by water depths in the Indian Creek Waterway, nearby parking shortages and traffic congestion. He thinks the proximity of amenities will benefit the show.
“I love the prospect of better parking, nearby hotels, more dining and the huge land opportunities,” he said.
The proposed site was formerly home to the Miami Herald newspaper and is north of downtown Miami, near American Airlines Arena and the Adrienne Arsht Center and just south of Sea Isle Marina.
Camper & Nicholsons first exhibited at the show 25 years ago and the company’s USA commercial director, Cromwell Littlejohn, said the move will be beneficial. He worked Saturday at the show’s large yacht location, Island Gardens Deep Harbour, just across the water from the proposed new site.
“The move will be a great thing,” Littlejohn said. “We have suggested that they needed to do something to draw people as the show has grown over the years. The old show has been great, but it is time for a change.
“Such a move will help tie it in to the big boat show here at Island Gardens,” he said. “Informa has been working awfully hard and has invested a lot of money. This will make the show more cohesive.”
News of the move was announced in a press release on Saturday and finalization is pending state and federal permits. Denison said he has talked with staff at Informa, and feels they will successfully navigate such potential challenges.
“I have a ton of confidence in their game plan,” Denison said. “If there are permit issues, they will handle it, if they have not already. They really have their act together and are some of the most organized people with experience in these things.”
The actual water and land use layout has not been shared, but Denison has heard the show will be on both the north and south sides of the MacArthur Causeway bridge.
“It should be about the same, maybe just a little smaller for the in-water display,” he said. “But they will make up for it on land.”
Some people in the industry hope organizers use the move as an opportunity to optimize the show. One of those voices is Mike Joyce, CEO of Hargrave Yachts Brokerage and Charter. With nearly half a century of experience in boating and sales, Joyce said he hopes a new physical layout will ease movement for what he sees as a strong segment of buyers, the long-time boat owner.
The Collins Avenue format covers more than a mile from one end to the other, which is a challenge for older clients.
“As long as they are going to move the show and be forced to change everything, then hopefully they will seize the opportunity to leapfrog from where they are and anticipate where the rich customers will be during the next 5- to 10-year period,” he said.
The new location may offer a chance to enhance how people get around the event.
“Providing the right kind of transportation will be critical for serving the top end of the market, which is where our clients come from,” Joyce said. “More and faster valet parking and 9-12 passenger golf carts everywhere to help move them short distances. Think airports.”
Joyce said another key is the relationship between the Miami International Boat Show — owned and produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association — and the yacht show. The two shows run concurrently every year and provide transportation between shows. This year, for the first time, they worked together on marketing in an attempt to educate attendees that there are two different shows. The move would put the two shows physically closer with Island Gardens in between.
Even with all the potential benefits, Denison said the Collins Avenue location has defined the show for a long time. And he was sorry to leave it — sort of.
“I am a little bit saddened, but it is complex,” he said. “I’ll miss it like a high-maintenance ex-girlfriend.”
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome below.