The ink was barely dry on the last permit needed for the Miami International Boat Show to move to Virginia Key when National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich made it official at a packed meeting Thursday of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
“The show is happening,” his slideshow said in big, bold letters.
“You can see them building it right over there,” he crowed, pointing to the tents and docks going up about a quarter-mile to the east along Miami’s Rickenbacker Causeway.
At earlier show updates, Dammrich’s lead slide had asked, “Is the show happening?”
He would answer his own question by saying, “Trust me. It will happen.” And so it will.
Forced out of its longtime venue at the Miami Beach Convention Center because of a multiyear renovation, the NMMA teamed up with the city of Miami to relocate the Feb. 11-15 show to the city’s Miami Marine Stadium property on Virginia Key.
“This going to be an epicenter for the marine industry for a long, long time,” Dammrich predicted.
The relocation has survived a salvo of legal challenges from Key Biscayne, which said it would hurt the environment and snarl traffic on the causeway. The courts didn’t buy it. Nor did the city of Miami, which is undertaking a $20 million upgrade of the property just north of the Rickenbacker Marina.
“This is an ideal location for a boat show,” Dammrich said. “It’s an island paradise.”