The thump, thump, thump of the Ultra Music Festival will return to downtown Miami next year.
Miami commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to keep Ultra at Bayfront Park despite strong opposition from Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who said the festival disrupted quality of life for downtown residents and had security issues.
“Residents complain they are prisoners in their homes for three days,” said Regalado, and when residents do go out they are harassed “by over-friendly young people,” Regalado said.
This year, on Ultra’s opening night in March, 28-year old security guard Ericka Mack was critically injured after ticketless gate crashers pushed their through a chain-link fence running over her.
Ultra lobbyist Brian May presented to the commission the case to keep Ultra downtown. He cited the international draw of the festival, which brings in thousands of tourists, the economic impact to the region and the elevation of Miami’s brand as a world-class city.
“To lose [Ultra] would be something that is damaging to the Miami brand in the future,” May said.
The agreement to continue to host the three-day festival came with conditions. Ultra will have to increase overall police presence and install two layers of more-secure G8 fencing to deter gate crashers. Organizers also agreed to “mental health and drug stations” manned by medical professionals in response to commissioners’ concerns of rampant drug use by concert goers.
May said he did not believe the festival needed the mental health and drug stations, but said organizers would comply with the commission’s request.
Ultra recently hired outgoing Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez as its security director. Martinez will work directly with the city to address the details of a revamped security plan for Ultra 2015.
By Nadege Green