Miami Beach Could Host a Spring Break Auto Festival

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This image from the Goodwood Festival of Speed ​​in England was featured in a presentation made to the City of Miami Beach.

City of Miami Beach

miami beach plans to import a major motorsports festival from England in March 2024 that would likely bring tens of thousands of visitors to South Beach over spring break.

Representatives of the Goodwood Festival of Speed ​​– which is held annually at the Duke of Richmond’s estate in England and attracts more than 100,000 people – pitch the idea to Miami Beach officials.

“It’s the kind of thing that gets so much attention around the world,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the Miami Herald. “It’s not unlike Art Basel.”

The talks reflect efforts by city officials to change the spring break party atmosphere, especially along South Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive. Gelber said that while details of the proposed festival have yet to be worked out, he anticipates Ocean Drive to be his “center of gravity.”

“I believe in scheduling community-defining events than waiting to see what happens,” Gelber said in an interview this week.

City officials have been talking to festival organizers for months, Gelber said, and a group of city workers traveled to West Sussex, England, to tour the festival grounds earlier this year. . The mayor said he had several virtual meetings with the Duke of Richmond, Charles Gordon-Lennox, founder of the event.

The Goodwood Festival typically features a ‘hill climb’ in which drivers compete for the fastest individual time on an uphill course, as well as a host of other racing showcases and motorsport exhibitions.

The discussion with Miami Beach is still in its infancy. Commissioner Alex Fernandez sponsored an agenda item to discuss the matter last month that was referred to the city’s Finance and Economic Resilience Committee, which is expected to take it up Sept. 30. It would then require the approval of the full municipal board.

“Everything is now very preliminary, but I’m thrilled that another event of such a caliber is interested in making Miami Beach its presence in the Americas,” Fernandez said in a text message.

In a 21-page presentation shared with city officials, Goodwood organizers touted potential benefits for “Miami” and did not specifically mention Miami Beach. Gelber said that may reflect the regional scale of the event, noting that he alerted Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to the talks.

Representatives for the Goodwood Festival did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their plans.

The presentation offers limited details but estimates $50 million in “economic impact”, created by the tens of thousands of visitors who would spend approximately three days in the area. He touts the festival as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Miami” that would combine “the quintessential English charm of Goodwood with the renowned glamour of Miami”.

The document also lists a number of “accommodation requirements”, including marketing, security and accommodation for Goodwood staff. The expected costs to the city are not yet clear.

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Ocean Drive is pictured during Spring Break in March 2022. Pedro Portal pportal@miamiherald.com

Miami Beach officials have been talking for years about changing the character of Ocean Drive, including proposing rezoning plans and holding a referendum on a 2 a.m. last call for liquor sales. During spring break, the city sought to implement programming more suited to an over-40 crowd than spring break. Earlier this year, the city launched a month-long lineup of music festivals in March with Alanis Morissette headlining.

Critics accused the city of cracking down on black crowds during spring break and trying to deter black and low-income tourists from visiting.

Fernandez, the city commissioner, said his goal was simply to keep people safe.

“Whether it’s Goodwood or something else, I envision an activity that ensures all of South Beach is safe and programmed with positive activations,” he said, “and also provides a controlled environment on Ocean Drive.”

This story was originally published August 31, 2022 9:22 a.m.

Aaron Leibowitz covers the city of Miami Beach for the Miami Herald. He was previously a city government reporter covering cities in Miami-Dade County.