South Beach may get a new music festival. Is the city ready for its own Coachella?

Fans at the concert celebrating Miami Beach’s centennial, held on South Beach in March 2015. Some members of the production team who organized that event are involved in planning the Miami Beach Pop Festival.Carl Juste/Miami Herald

South Beach could soon add a new event to a packed calendar of festivals, concerts and art fairs: a three-day pop music festival on the sand. The news may delight music lovers, but will undoubtedly prompt grumbling from residents tired of big crowds.

After months of meetings with residents and city staff, organizers of the proposed Miami Beach Pop Festival got an initial thumbs up from the Miami Beach Commission to host the event for the first time in November 2019.

The festival, which organizers envision as Miami’s version of Coachella, would be held on Nov. 8-10 on the beach between Fifth and 10th streets. Although the details have yet to be finalized, organizers have suggested a wide range of possible headliners including Arcade Fire, Bruno Mars, Elton John, Enrique Iglesias, and Lady Gaga. The festival is expected to attract 35,000 people a day.

Convincing the City Commission to green light a new event on South Beach was a tough sell. Residents often complain about the traffic jams, crowds and partying that accompany big events on the island. City officials also worry about attracting too many visitors. Spring break crowds overwhelmed South Beach this year, prompting police to temporarily shut down eastbound lanes on the MacArthur Causeway.

“I’m not enthused with another huge event,” Mayor Dan Gelber told the organizers at Wednesday’s meeting. Gelber and two other commissioners, Mark Samuelian and Micky Steinberg, voted against the proposal.

But Donald Lockerbie, one of the event producers, assured city officials that the festival would be well-organized and bring economic benefits to the island. He said that organizers hoped to attract numerous residents, which could help minimize traffic impacts.

“We see it as a world-class event, a world-class event that the city wants to see. This is not some event where anything will go,” Lockerbie said. Organizers estimate that the festival would generate at least $20 million in economic benefits during its first year.

A three-day festival pass would likely cost roughly $300, but residents would be eligible for discounted tickets. Organizers also plan to donate a portion of ticket sales to Miami Beach environmental organizations, according to a proposal shared with city staff.

Organizers still have to secure the necessary permits in order to host the event.

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