On May 9 Ultra Music Festival‘s fate will once again fall into the hands of the Miami City Commission as it faces fierce opposition from a slew of local groups. The worst part about these proceedings is that while all of the opposition comes to the meetings to voice opposition, many of Ultra’s biggest supporters are physically unable to come. Whether by work or by location, most of the Ultra attendees cannot set aside an entire workday to show their support. So we decided to take a few perspectives from those who cannot be there, but wanted to make their support known.
Scott Lombardo – West Palm Beach, FL
You may not know it or you might not want to admit, but you are weighing the future of Miami’s single most iconic event. Miami is an amazing vibrant city with one of the most unique landscapes in America. What makes Miami iconic is the beautiful beaches, the crystal blue water, the gleaming glass buildings, and yes…being at the forefront of dance music in America. Let’s face it, Miami is not known for any of its sports teams at the moment. Miami doesn’t host the Oscars or the Golden Globes or anything like that, though it is hosting the next Super Bowl. Miami is known for hosting one of the most iconic music festivals in the world: Ultra. Studies have found that it is the most “life changing” festival since Woodstock.
It’s the only music festival of its size and scale that is nestled within a metropolitan area while also being right alongside those gorgeous blue waters. The other largest music festivals are tucked far away on inland farms and parks far away from any blue water. Ultra Music Festival is a Miami institution and it is the pre-eminent music festival in the fastest growing area of music. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that captivates that ever coveted 18-34 demographic. This is the music and the culture they grew up with and will always enjoy, and thanks to Ultra Miami is forever ingrained in their mind as a destination for their music.
Music festivals of this scale and acclaim are celebrated in other host towns. Belgium’s Tomorrowland is so celebrated, it is practically the country’s unofficial team. The citizens fly Tomorrowland flags on their homes and brag about being home to such a legendary event. Las Vegas treats EDC Week as a holiday and rolls out the red carpet for the festival. Ultra Music Festival is just as iconic, and Miami would be foolish to toss it aside.
Many of the arguments against Ultra center around how “dangerous” it can be, while completely ignoring the gargantuan task that Ultra Music Festival so successfully accomplishes every year. In fact, of the dance music festivals (or festivals in general) Ultra is one of the safest of them all. Ultra hosts somewhere around 165,000 attendees each year, and yet in 2018 there were only 28 arrests and less than 50 hospitalizations….out of 165,000 people! Sure Ultra had some tough times in 2014 and 2015, but it learned and adapted to become what it is today. What’s even more impressive is that even after years of experience at Bayfront, Ultra was moved to Virginia Key with hundreds of new variables to contend with and still maintained a stellar safety record.
Other large festivals have much less impressive records of safety. EDC withholds medical call data from its official reports now. EDC had 1 death in 2017 and Tomorrowland had 2 in 2018, yet Ultra has had none in several years. You should be proud of the impressive record of your home festival.
All of this goes without saying that Ultra brings in almost $100 million to Miami annually. If Miami does not do right by Ultra, the fans of the festival will not soon forget it and will take their money elsewhere. Ultra has already been through a difficult year of change, and now is the time to rally behind the most iconic event in Miami. Do not reject the hundreds of thousands of Ultra fans by rejecting Ultra.
Josh Grave – Minnesota
I am writing in regard to Ultra Music Festival. I am a 40 year old business owner that has recently discovered the city of Miami via UMF. I have attended Ultra for the past two years with a friend of mine. I frequently visit the Florida Keys however if it weren’t for Ultra (UMF) I would have never visited Miami. I have come to thoroughly enjoy Miami, it’s atmosphere, and it’s people. This would have never happened without UMF. Side note, while in Miami for Ultra, I spent thousands of dollars at local restaurants, hotels and clubs. So did my friend.
While at the festival this year I had the chance to speak to some locals from Key Biscayne. They had mentioned talk of possibility for making the current UMF sight on Virginia Key into soccer fields. Not sure of there was any truth in that. But what an opportunity for Ultra and the city of Miami. Honestly the new location on Virginia Key was a bit tough. Bayfront Park, and the ambiance of the city is tough to beat. That being said. I believe with some improvements to the current location and the support from the city of Miami, you’ll keep thousands of people like myself coming back for their yearly fix of EDM.
I hope the city of Miami considers working with UMF instead of against. I have come to enjoy Miami immensely, however without UMF I fear I won’t be back.
My husband and I have been at Ultra Miami for the past 6 years.
We stayed 2 times at downtown and the noise was not as loud as the commissioner Carollo mentioned. We never saw or listened windows shaking or something like that, even at the hotel that was 5 blocks away from Bayfront, and we never arrived early at Ultra so they were already playing when we were still at the hotel. The last 3 times we have stayed in Brickell and this year we could see the stages from the apartment but not listening noise at all, even when it was The Chainsmokers closure at Sunday (yes, we left early because the transportation issues).
We always stay more than a week enjoying the city, visiting other sites than just Ultra, spending a lot of money (fees and taxes are really high) but having the time of our lives because it’s Ultra and it’s Miami.
We heard a lot of positive comments from restaurants’ service people and lyft drivers because they were having a great income just for the weekend.
We would love to attend Ultra in Miami again and again so, you have our vote in favor too.
Matt Mattias – Illinois
To Whom it May Concern-
A small group of us traveled to Miami for this wonderful, peaceful event that you guys have been hosting for the past 2 decades. We enjoyed the city very much and would be more than happy to come back again. Of course the event had hiccups with limited amount of time to plan at this location but I do believe, as many do, that with some minor improvements these hiccups can be addressed in the years to come. As far as the sound complaints…. We traveled by Ferry boat and could not here any music until we near the venue so I would hope Miami and the sound consultants for Ultra can get some facts together and realize that this may not be an Ultra issue but an outside source. Hopefully Miami can and Ultra can still flourish from the floods of revenue this event brings in for everyone Miami is Ultra and Ultra is Miami. Let’s keep it that way.
Javi Cortes – West Palm Beach, FL
Ill make this short and sweet.
How long did ultra have to put this festival together this year……?
Now compare it to other festivals
Now can you see how fast UMF can fix problems on the fly? By Sunday the festival was almost, if not perfect.
33 noise complaints out of the thousands of people that live in the Brickell and Biscayne key area. That’s very low.
Arrests were very low as well.
Where were the complaints for the sea life at Bayfront? That location was also next to sea life.
Basically Ultra went as smooth as it could with the timeframe it had. Now if the city commissioners give them a whole year like they should have had, then most of these problems will be solved.
Tiffany Morton – Texas
I am writing in regards to Ultra Music Festival and Virginia Key being its new home. I am 37 years old, been married for 15 years, a mother of 2 and my husband and I have been going to Ultra every year since 2012. In 2012 we fell in love with UMF, the new family and friends the scene brought us and the city of Miami.
With that being said, I would like to point out that the ONLY reason we come to Miami is for UMF. My husband and I have spent over $50,000 in Miami over the last 8 years and we are there for Ultra weekend only (no other events). I would also like to point out that Ultra is an amazing festival and a lot safer then most. In 2018 EDCLV had 96 arrests over the 3 days and in 2017 EDCLV had 1090 medical calls (they did not report 2018 numbers). Ultra had 37 arrests over the 3 days and the festival had 281 medical calls, nowhere near the amount as EDCLV.
Yes, the festival has a few things to work on but I know without a doubt they will make sure next year is flawless. Please don’t take away our “home” away from us, we love the city of Miami and UMF and we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep it in its rightful home.
A local said to me, “we don’t have industry in Miami, we have tourism”. If the city of Miami voted in favor of “kicking” Ultra out, this would cause more than a fracture to Miami’s identity.
If Ultra leaves, will Miami Music Week remain? What would stop the industry leaders from moving the other events, elsewhere?
If you eliminate a massive event like Ultra from a tourist city, you will create an economic “bust” with a basement so low, you can’t even see the impact.
I think the city of Miami should focus on how they are spending the “tax-generated” money each year, and “spend” less time contemplating whether or not Ultra deserves its home, where it all began, over twenty years ago.