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Art Basel Agrees to Five More Years at the Miami Beach Convention Center

Art Basel Miami Beach 2016
Art Basel Miami Beach 2016
Photo by George Martinez
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Since the Swiss art fair Art Basel launched a sister show in South Florida, the event has been held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. That won't change anytime soon. Art Basel and the City of Miami Beach announced today they have agreed to a new, five-year lease that will keep Art Basel Miami Beach coming back to the convention center through 2023.

The long-term lease will bind Basel to the Beach beginning in 2019 and guarantees Art Basel exclusive use of the convention center during its run. That includes the venue's new ballroom and meeting spaces. In return, the convention center will provide a direct connection via elevator and escalator between the exhibit halls and the second-floor ballroom, according to the release.

In April, the Miami Herald reported that Art Basel was considering a ten-year deal with the convention center, contingent in part on providing an escalator and an elevator that weren't in the venue's original redesign plans. According to the Herald, the additions cost an estimated $2.8 million, and Miami Beach commissioners agreed to pay Fentress Architects an additional $124,240 to incorporate those elements into the final design. Given those figures, an agreement guaranteeing only five years — half the time Art Basel originally considered — comes as a disappointment.

But for local businesses, the lease renewal is still a big deal. “This agreement is comparable to locking in the Super Bowl for five years," Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said in a statement. And he's not far off. Some economists have estimated that the fair brings up to $500 million to the area each year, as high-rolling collectors descend on South Florida to buy art and party (though perhaps not in that order).

Residents, meanwhile, can look forward to seeing world-class art, sneaking past velvet ropes, and sitting in legendary Art Basel traffic for years to come.

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