April 16, 2014

Arts

High-Wire Act

David Villano | 1/1/2006
Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based circus, wants to bring its act to Miami Beach. Permanently. Under a proposed $150-million deal, Miami Beach would become the third city, after Las Vegas and Orlando, to host a resident troupe year round. The plan calls for reconfiguring city-owned Jackie Gleason Auditorium to allow restaurants, nightclubs and a more intimate setting. Backers say the act could sell 600,000 tickets a year. "It certainly adds a new dimension to the mix," says Charlie Hines, managing director of the nearby 800-room Loews Hotel.

CIRQUE ACT: Miami Beach would be only the third city to host a resident Cirque performance year round.

Cirque's financial partners, Clear Channel Entertainment and developer Jorge Perez's Related Group, say they'll put up roughly a third of the cost, leaving the city and county to front the remaining $100 million. Much of that sum would be diverted from bond money earmarked by voters for a expansion to the adjacent Miami Beach Convention Center.

The financing plan has irked some who feel the convention center should get the money. A 2001 study concluded that Miami-Dade's only large-scale convention facility was slipping far behind industry standards. Opposition is also mounting from some nightclub owners who say public money should not be used to subsidize their potential competitors.

Tourism industry officials are reluctant to take sides. "I think everybody can come out a winner," says Stuart Blumberg, president of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association. "It doesn't have to be either Cirque du Soleil or the convention center. Let's have both." City officials are trying to work out a deal using some of the estimated $90 million in revenue the Cirque complex may generate each year.

You can reach David Villano at villanotrend@yahoo.com

Tags: Dining & Travel, Miami-Dade

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