Dania Flea Market moves to bigger venue

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Moving the event to Dolphins Stadium will allow for 300 more vendors, additional parking, say organizers

Moving the event to Dolphins Stadium will allow for 300 more vendors, additional parking, say organizers

The Dania Marine Flea Market, a South Florida institution, is moving to Dolphins Stadium from Dania Jai Alai, its home for 27 years.

This will give the marine flea market — one of the largest of its kind in the world — room to grow, says owner and founder Al Behrendt.

“We’ve had a waiting list [for vendor space] the last three years,” he says. The move will enable him to add 300 vendor spaces — bringing the number to 1,300 — and ease the parking crunch, which had become critical. Behrendt says people were staying home because on the flea market’s busiest days they were having to park up to a mile away.

“There will be unlimited free parking at Dolphins Stadium,” he says.

The flea market, scheduled for March 30 - April 2, offers a treasure-trove of marine stuff — new and used marine parts and accessories, diving and fishing gear, clothing, and even some boats. Exhibitors range from boaters who are clearing out their garages to manufacturers who are clearing out inventory, old parts and products at discount prices. Behrendt says he expects for the first time at least two new-boat dealers at the market, as well as the usual used-boat sellers.

Behrendt started the flea market in 1979 with 56 vendor spaces on the grounds of Dania’s jai alai fronton. It is moving about 15 miles to the grounds of the Miami Dolphins’ football stadium in Miramar.

Behrendt says the atmosphere won’t change with the new digs. It will remain relaxed and social, and a big draw for hard-core boaters.

He says the serious buyers go to the market with their parts list. “They’ve got the part number. They’ve got the model number,” he says. “They know exactly what they’re looking for, and nine times out of 10 they find it. As your boat gets older, as your engine gets older, it’s a great place to find the parts you need.”

Tickets are $10, $12 on opening day, Thursday.

Behrendt will continue to call it the Dania Marine Flea Market, even though the event is no longer in Dania. “The Miami International Boat Show is not really in Miami,” he says. “It’s in Miami Beach.”