UPDATE: The City deferred the vote on Ultra’s return until the June meeting. No other explanation was given, however the public comments were all negative. The commenters were many of the same that spoke out against Ultra numerous times before, many reading from scripts. No representatives from Ultra spoke. As of today, Ultra has no agreement to return for 2021 or 2022.
While we’re still going through all of this coronavirus madness, Ultra Music Festival has another big day today. While you’re probably reading Reddit posts about people complaining about the no-refunds policy and trying chargebacks from their credit cards, the future of the festival is back on the line.
When Ultra was “postponed” we were all promised tickets to either 2021 or 2022, which was interesting because Ultra has had to fight tooth and nail each year to get its approval. It was surprising that Ultra would announce 2 years are locked in already. Subsequently, we learned that as part of Ultra’s agreement with the City of Miami, the City planned to pre-approve Ultra for 2021 and 2022 at Bayfront Park.
The City tried to sneak the approval by without a peep a few weeks back, but the attempt was shot down. Now a new resolution is up for a vote today at the City Commission meeting, being held virtually.
While the City certainly owes Ultra for what happened last month, you can bet that it won’t be as easy as that. For one, you can be sure the Commission will bring up the fury surrounding the ticket refund situation. However, a big reason for that refund situation is the $2 million fee the City demands from Ultra in addition to a fee per ticket sold. We have no idea whether the City is planning to collect that fee now or in 2021 and this resolution does not discuss those issues.
Secondly, the resolution creates some potential legal issues for the City. In it’s current agreement Miami allows Ultra to use Bayfront Park under a revocable license agreement, this allows the city to review each year and decide whether to revoke for the next. It’s not a lease of the space. Obviously the time is ripe for Miami to decide whether or not to revoke for 2021, and we know they will not revoke. However the resolution also uses language, albeit different language, to “wink-wink nod nod” that they will also approve Ultra for 2022 as well. Ultra’s bloodthirsty opponents will surely tee up an argument that this amounts to a property interest that the City cannot bestow in this manner without an open bid process. Additionally, there are concerns that pre-approving Ultra for 2022 might mean the festival is more arrogant in 2021 with the promise of a return in 2022 no matter the outcome.
With Ultra looking back at the most difficult 365 days of its existence, the festival could surely use a smooth win today. We’ll keep you posted.