Ultra Music Festival has announced its new home ahead of the monumental 21st edition. The festival will move to the historic Virginia Key Beach Park and Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park. The world-renowned and internationally acclaimed event provided the message below, in a long-awaited statement to its fans:
We are excited to announce that the City of Miami has agreed to a deal to relocate Ultra Music Festival to the beautiful and historic Virginia Key. The new venue will allow the festival to evolve into its new, larger home, ultimately creating a more enjoyable experience for all festival attendees. We look forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with our partners at the City of Miami and Historic Virginia Key Beach Park as we commemorate keeping Ultra in the City of Miami.
The new venue will permit an extended operating time until 2:00 A.M. and will provide the festival with an increased capacity. Attendees will also have vastly expanded space as compared to the former venue, Bayfront Park. Fans will also experience in-tandem staging at both the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park and Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park, creating a wholly unique single event space.
The three-day concert attracts music-lovers from across the world for what is considered the premier EDM event. Ultra typically features performances from prominent artists and draws about 55,000 people a day. Even if EDM has somewhat receded from the mainstream, it remains a serious money-maker. The International Music Summit’s 2016 Business Report stated that EDM grossed $7.1 billion globally.
Previously, the event planners of Ultra paid a base fee of $2 million from for the use of Bayfront Park. If the festival would have been able to stay at Bayfront Park, they would have faced a $5 per ticket fee surcharge, or $797,030.
Reasons for the move
Previously, some downtown Miami residents have been protesting for the city of Miami to stop hosting large-scale events at Bayfront Park. Residents stated they wanted Bayfront park to be open to the public more. In 2017, the park was closed 115 days because of events and the time required to set up for them. In addition to Ultra, this affects Rolling Loud Festival, which typically takes place in May and features major hip-hop acts. The Residents state they want peace, quiet, a place to walk their dogs and jog.
Concerns about the new location
The move to Virginia Key is not without controversy. While neighbors will be less of a concern, there have been complaints that the noise from the festival will be bad for fish and other marine life.
Miami Waterkeeper executive director Rachel Silverstein made the following statement:
If it’s so disruptive to homeowners in downtown and all the way to Brickell — behind hurricane glass — that they voted not to have [the festival] in their community anymore, imagine how disruptive it’s going to be to wildlife. This is an area that is supposed to be set aside for wildlife.
About the Virginia Key
The Virginia Key provides a rare wildlife sanctuary in the heart of urban Miami. Conservationists have long targeted the Key for protection. The 860-acre island holds nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles, crocodiles, and seabirds. It also borders the Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area created in 1990 after speedboat racing ended at the marine stadium. Today all boats, even kayaks, are banned to protect seagrass pastures for grazing manatees.
University of Miami scientists raised concerns about damage to research fish if Ultra moves its thumping, bone-rattling electronic dance music festival near the school’s labs on Virginia Key.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, noise pollution is becoming a chronic problem for marine life. In 2016, the agency adopted a 10-year plan to deal with increasingly noisy U.S. waters. The plan included limiting boat engines, underwater construction, drilling and other activities in the water.
About the contract
Organizers have said that they will work with environmental regulators. It is in hopes that loud music will not reach theUniversity of Miami’s research tanks. These tanks are housed about 1,200 feet from the beachfront park, one of two locations on the Key approved for stages.
Under the contract, Ultra must limit sounds to 110 decibels within 60 feet of each stage. To accomplish this, Ultra plans to erect more stages in the parking lot outside Miami Marine Stadium than along the beach.
However, since water amplifies sound, noise could be louder when it enters the tanks. For example, 110 decibels equals about 172 decibels in water. That’s louder than a jet engine and could be loud enough to break the glass.