Miami commissioners vote to return Ultra Music Festival to Bayfront Park

MIAMI (WSVN) - City of Miami Commissioners have voted in favor of hosting the Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park in 2020.

The measure, which passed 3-2, was approved at Miami City Hall, at around 6:45 p.m., Thursday, after hours of public testimony.

Commissioners Joe Carollo and Ken Russell voted against the measure.

Emotions ran high moments before the vote was held as commissioners heard from the public to decide the fate of the festival.

“That’s all you care about! You are a disgrace, sir,” Carollo said during the public meeting. “You’re not negotiating for the City of Miami. You’re negotiating for Ultra. That’s who you’re negotiating for.”

When asked to not accuse the individual of negotiating for the festival, Carollo replied, “Absolutely.”

Within minutes of the measure passing, the festival released a video on their social media pages with the message, “Miami, we’re coming home.”

The festival was first held at Bayfront Park in 2001 after the festival spent its first two years in Miami Beach.

The measure was also a major win for Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

“The main concern is having the festival be able to co-exist with the neighbors in the area,” Suarez said. “I think there’s still some work to be done.”

The idea of the festival returning to the park did not sit well with downtown Miami residents that were happy to see the festival leave.

“I’m against the noise,” one resident said. “I’m against the profanity.”

“There’s no space to walk on the sidewalk,” a second resident said. “They block them. There’s no space for the children to play.”

This year’s festival was held in Virginia Key adjacent to the Miami Marine Stadium.

Transportation issues plagued the 2019 festival, and some festival attendees walked across the Rickenbacker Causeway to return to the mainland.

“I thought that this was so poorly planned out,” one attendee said.

“We’re all stuck in traffic with all the other cars coming here,” a second attendee said. “It took us … what? We caught the bus at 6 o’clock. It’s almost 8.”

As part of the deal to bring the festival back, organizers have agreed to several changes to the festival. Some include less time the park will be off-limits, fewer stages and lower sound levels. Lights and stage positioning will also be adjusted.

The festival also promised to repay $308,000 that the city spent on emergency equipment for Virginia Key.

“At the end of the day, this is essentially a revolving one-year deal that can be cancelled every single year, and in order for there to be long-term harmony, you have to appease the residents and be a good neighbor,” Suarez said.

Initially, the city said Ultra owed them around $475,000 from this year’s festival. However, the two sides settled to just over $300,000, which will be repaid in two installments.

The first installment will be due 10 days after the contract is signed, and the other installment is due 10 days after the 2020 festival ends.

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