Today was a political hellscape, and we’re not just talking about Washington DC. While most eyes were on one hearing, the dance music community was fighting for its own soul as Miami held a City Council meeting where Ultra Music Festival‘s fate hung in the balance. In a shock to the EDM world, the Council unanimously voted down the contract between Ultra and Bayfront Park despite millions pledged. The politics and the finances involved are surprisingly complex, but right now one of EDM’s most prestigious events is wandering the wilderness. While Ultra is vowing to fight on, it’s a business and it must prepare for these disappointing eventualities. While all indications point to Ultra being as blindsided as we are, they must now consider the unthinkable: where could Ultra Miami go if not Bayfront Park? We decided to do the unthinkable and lay out some of the options.
1Hard Rock Stadium
The first place you would look is only a 20-30 minute drive away from Bayfront Park. Miami Gardens hosts the Hard Rock Stadium where you’ll find the Dolphins football team playing. It was recently renovated, and as you can see it can hold large music events. The venue has also hosted Life in Color Festival and Rolling Loud Festival in the past, however these events were in the surrounding parking lot. The idea of Ultra Miami becoming a parking lot festival seems unthinkable.
On top of that, there’s a practical problem. The Miami Open Tennis Tournament is scheduled for March 18-31 of 2019. Miami would have to move to April on top of the obvious downgrades involved. However, this is one of the only venues big enough and close enough to Miami’s nightclubs and hotels to keep a large portion of the Ultra vibe we know and love.
2Homestead – Miami Speedway
Besides stadiums, the next best place to host a music festival is a Nascar speedway. EDC Vegas thrives at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and we’ve seen festivals like HARD Summer and Imagine Music Festival move to speedways. The advantages are obvious – there is AMPLE space for activities. Bayfront Park is 32 acres, while the Homestead-Miami Speedway is 600 acres.
While Homestead is a 30-40 minute drive south of Bayfront Park, it is surprisingly remote and hotels are scarce. It would have to be a camping festival of some kind, and Ultra is not in the business of running a camping festival.
3Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale
One of the biggest aspects of Ultra Miami, it’s the hot Springtime beach vibe that it provides. Therefore Ultra would have to look at Palm Beach or Ft. Lauderdale. They have hotels, beautiful beaches, and each is absolutely desperate for coolness and revenue that Ultra brings.
West Palm Beach holds its own music festival, Sunfest, in May and attracts 130,000 people, however the festival runs for 4 days and there is really only space for 3 medium sized stages. However it provides the same urban waterfront atmosphere that makes Ultra so unique. Out west there is a large Fairgrounds property that adjoins a large concert amphitheater. At this point we’re far out in speculation, but it’s a possibility.
Ft. Lauderdale currently hosts Tortuga Music Festival right on the beach, but it only attracts 75,000 people. Ultra needs about double that capacity over 3 days.
Ultra is an urban festival in Florida, so naturally Orlando and Tampa would be considered on some level. They feature weather close enough to Miami in March, they have a network of hotels, airports, nightclubs, and spaces that can hold a large crowd. Both cities host their own medium-sized EDM festivals, but it just feels so unlikely that we would ever see Ultra’s flagship festival in the same place as EDC Orlando or Sunset Music Festival.
Atlanta has the type of park that Ultra is looking for, with lots of space and and urban landscape in the background. On top of that we all know Atlanta hosts Shaky Beats, Imagine Music Festival and TomorrowWorld (RIP). Who are we kidding, there’s just no way Ultra is coming to Atlanta.
The natural idea is LA with its new park or Las Vegas because of the obvious, however there is just so little chance of these types of places. Even if they did happen Ultra couldn’t mobilize and nail down the politics in those areas with time to produce a flagship festival by March 2019.
7Slimmed Down Ultra
In Ultra’s response statement, the festival stressed that they will work for a solution that works for everyone. Given the complaints about the festival dealt with setup time, traffic, and noise, we can expect ideas that limit those aspects. Could Ultra become a 2 day festival? Maybe Ultra will shut down earlier in the evenings or we could see the Worldwide or Megastructure stages (or both) be eliminated to reduce the traffic snarl. These are all depressing options that would be looked at to mollify the “get off our lawn” crowd. Let’s be honest here, this is the most likely option.