Ultra Ban on Miami City Commission Agenda

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Chaos. Gatecrashing. Drug use. Graffiti. Crime.

In the wake of Ultra Music Festival 2014, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff have hyperbolically enumerated the evils of the EDM fest in pursuit of a city-wide ban.

There were two undeniable tragedies at this year's fest: the trampling of security guard Erica Mack and the death of 21-year-old attendee Adonis Escoto.

But in support of their resolution "prohibiting the Bayfront Park Management Trust from holding the Ultra Music Festival in the future," Regalado and Sarnoff have slipped into scaremongering.

UPDATE Ultra Music Festival is fighting the proposed ban with a petition to "Keep UMF in Miami."

UPDATE #2 The vote on the Ultra ban has been delayed. Now the Miami City Commission won't discuss the EDM festival's future till April 24.

See also: In Defense of Ultra Music Festival

Set to be discussed, considered, and voted upon during tomorrow's Miami City Commission meeting, the mayor and commissioner's proposed legislation uses a "breach of contract" accusation against Ultra as the basis for seeking a ban.

Among Ultra's other crimes, as listed in the resolution:

-Resulting in "84 documented arrests and 153 documented calls for Fire-Rescue service"

-Placing "unparalleled strain on the City of Miami's ("City's") public safety services"

-Allowing "attendees without tickets, through no fault of the City, [to storm] the perimeter fence to gain illegal access to the Festival, without regard for human life or safety, and the ensuing mob trampled a security guard, [Erica Mack], working at the event"

-Failing to heed "City officials [who] ordered the organizers of the Festival to reinforce and increase fencing at the location where the stampede occurred"

-Contributing to "drug use, graffiti, and other crimes that continue to have a deleterious effect on the City, and in particular, the Downtown area"

-Leading to the deaths of "a 21 year old [Adonis Escoto, who] died in a parked car after attending the Festival" and "a 20 year old [Anthony Cassano, who] allegedly died from a drug overdose at the Festival [in 2013]"

Of all these arguments, the only valid ones are those concerning the allegedly insufficient fencing, which may have provided an opportunity for the gatecrashing incident that caused Erica Mack's injuries.

All of Regalado and Sarnoff's other assertions are bunk. The arrests, ambulance calls, drug use, and graffiti should be expected when dealing with any weekend-long crowd of 150,000 people.

As for the fatalities during Ultra, there is no reasonable way to blame the festival for drug deaths. The use of street drugs and their consequences is a personal responsibility issue. (Also important to note: It's still unknown what exactly led to Adonis Escoto dying in that car, where he was left alone to "sober up" by his friends.)

Of course, though, the mayor and the commissioner are determined to convince the people of Miami, by any means necessary, that "it is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City to discontinue this event." In fact, Sarnoff has even tried to make his point by producing a clip reel of "Ultra-goers' worst behavior" (using YouTube as his primary source) for Channel 10 news.

But the main impediment to their Ultra ban isn't public opinion. It's the fact that the festival has the contracted right to host its event at Bayfront Park through 2018.

See also: Ultra Plans "Comprehensive Security Review" in Response to Security Guard's Trampling

In a use agreement, drafted on March 6, 2014, between Ultra (identified as Event Entertainment Group, Inc.) and the Bayfront Park Management Trust, it is clearly stated that the park has been reserved "for the purpose of conducting Ultra Music Festival on the Friday through Sunday of the fourth weekend of March 2014, March 2015, March 2016, March 2017, and March 2018."

Unsurprisingly, there is also a "Default Provision" in the document, which allows for the contract to be voided at any time for a number of reasons:

In the event [Ultra] shall fail to comply with any material term and condition of the Agreement or shall fail to perform any of the material terms and conditions contained herein, then the Trust, at its sole option and in addition to all other rights and legal remedies available to it by law, upon written notice to [Ultra] may cancel and terminate this Agreement.

This is why Regalado and Sarnoff have accused the festival of "breach of contract." If they can sway the Miami City Commission to adopt their anti-UMF resolution, then they can possibly nullify Ultra's deal with the Bayfront Park Management Trust -- leaving no appropriate venue within the city limits and forcing the fest to leave downtown, even the county.

So far, the mayor and the commissioner have not specifically identified in which way that Ultra failed to comply with the contract's "terms and conditions." But as Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa reported in his post-festival news conference, the festival was apparently advised to reinforce the portion of its perimeter fence that eventually collapsed under the weight of jumpers and crushed security guard Erica Mack.

So it seems most likely that UMF may have violated the contract's 13th provision, which covers "Security":

[Ultra] shall provide at [Ultra's] cost, all necessary perimeter/t-shirt event security and police officers to be determined by the City of Miami Police Department and the Trust. In addition, Trust may require extra fencing or security if it deems it necessary.

Heading into tomorrow's meeting, the festival's most vocal supporter on the Miami City Commission has been Frank Carollo, who also helped block the attempt to cancel the second weekend of Ultra 2013. Not coincidentally, he serves as the chair of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, which earns a significant portion of its yearly revenue from UMF.

Meanwhile, the fest and its fans are mounting their own offensive with a petition to keep Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

Now let's just hope that Regalado and Sarnoff's 2014 anti-Ultra push goes bust, just like last year's scare campaign. Because an EDM fest cannot be evil.

Yes, there will always be accidents, drugs, and graffiti. So police Ultra. Fine Ultra. Improve Ultra.

But don't ban Ultra.

Crossfade's Top Blogs

-Ultra 2014's Ten Best Moments

-50 Things You See at Ultra Music Festival

-Ultra 2014's Ten Worst Moments

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.