Weeks of talks to bring the steamy event and its 51 contestants to South Beach paused recently, with parent company Miss Universe deciding against moving the primetime pageant to Miami Beach in 2012.
Miss Universe and South Florida business and government representatives, however, are still working to bring the event to the Miami Beach Convention Center for a three-year run starting in 2013, according to ACT Productions and the Green modeling agency, two main figures in negotiations.
“They want to come to Miami. We just have to get a few more things in line,” said Lacey Abbott, director of ACT Productions. “I think everybody wants them to come here.”
The deal-breaker in 2012, Abbot said, was time and money.
According to city documents, Miss Universe initially asked Miami Beach to swallow $3 million in costs associated with organizing and producing the event. That included hotel rooms, airline tickets and convention center rent, among others. That price tag dropped to $1 million by late December. But Tammy Green, of the Green Agency, said the costs were still too great, and there wasn’t enough time to pool together local resources to bridge the gap ahead of the pageant’s June 3 date.
“It’s a complicated deal because the business model they use in Las Vegas is different than what would work in Miami,” Green said. “In Las Vegas they can afford to give a lot of rooms and a lot of production needs. They can give those. Miami Beach is not that kind of city.”
The Miss USA pageant, which began as a racy alternative to Miss America, has been around for 60 years and was held in Miami Beach from 1960 to 1971, with the exception of one year. Last year it was held at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood; no official announcement has been made on whether Miss USA will return to Las Vegas.
Max Sklar, Miami Beach’s tourism and cultural development director, confirmed that talks for 2012 have ended. But Brenda Mendoza, a Miss Universe spokeswoman, said there is still interest to bring the event back to Miami Beach. “We are definitely interested in the city of Miami Beach and we’d love to have it there,” she said.
Green said the key now is to get sponsorships from a consortium of local and global businesses that can offer to collectively pay for what Miss Universe is asking.
Should Miami Beach bring the event back, South Florida’s tourism industry stands to gain about eight minutes of exposure during NBC’s primetime, June 3 televised pageant, which was watched 7.4 million American viewers last year, according to Nielsen ratings. Miami Beach could also reap up to $300,000 ticket sales and 2,000 hotel room buys.
“It’s got good written all over it,” said Green. “So stay tuned.”