SBJ/Sept. 20-26, 2010/Events and Attractions

Fan fest to take over South Beach

Ocean Drive site of event linked to Orange Bowl

Ocean DriveNewsCom
Ocean Drive, site of a Super Bowl entertainment area, will reprise that role for the Orange Bowl.
Ocean Drive in Miami’s South Beach will turn into “Orange Drive,” a four-day sports and entertainment festival beginning on New Year’s Eve, through a coordinated effort by the city of Miami Beach, the Discover Orange Bowl and New York-based Union Square Agency.

The idea behind Orange Drive is to shut down nine blocks of Ocean Drive and create a series of concerts, a boxing card, wrestling matches and pep rallies with Orange Bowl teams that would attract fans and party-goers from New Year’s Eve through the Jan. 3 bowl game.

“This is the perfect environment for an event like this,” said Shawn Garrity, president of Union Square. “This takes fan fest to a whole new level.”

Eric Poms, CEO of the Orange Bowl, said his group watched the activity around a closed-down Ocean Drive during the Super Bowl in February. The Orange Bowl had held fan fests and beach bashes in other areas of Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the past, but Poms said he’s always had his eye on more of an anchor event in South Beach.

“We took notice with the way they shut down the streets in South Beach for the Super Bowl and created this entertainment district,” Poms said. “We got an understanding of how to do it.

“The big picture is that we have a lot of fans coming down from the two institutions playing in our game, you have residents here who enjoy South Beach and you have the height of the tourist season, both for domestic and international visitors. There’s tremendous opportunity with this.”

The Orange Bowl already has gone through the permitting phase with the city of Miami Beach to gain initial clearance, according to Max Sklar, director of tourism and cultural development for the city. The bowl will pay Miami Beach an amount to be determined based on space used and the amount of city resources needed, such as fire and police.

The bowl then sold the marketing and media rights for Orange Drive to Union Square for a fee that neither side would divulge.

Union Square will seek a title sponsor for close to seven figures, while other sponsorships will be available for the high five figures to low six figures. If revenue hits a certain threshold, Union Square would begin sharing with the bowl.

Orange Drive represents another step in the comeback for Union Square, the agency that was formed in 2008 by the former owners of MSL Sports & Entertainment. MSL dissolved in 2008 when it sank millions of dollars into a spring college football property, Gridiron Bash, and it failed to launch.

CEO Gary Cioffi and Garrity regrouped and returned with Union Square, which has created a high school basketball tournament and managed the Ivy League’s first women’s lacrosse championship, among its sports events, while also moving into lifestyle and fashion events.

“We believe that if you blend the right entertainment with college sports, you’ve got an interesting mix,” Garrity said.

Orange Drive begins on Dec. 31 with a New Year’s Eve celebration. Union Square is working to find a broadcast partner to televise the entertainment events that night. Professional wrestling from promotional group TNA and a Main Events boxing card will highlight Jan. 1.

On Jan. 2, the day before the Orange Bowl, participating teams, bands and cheerleaders will take part in a pep rally on South Beach, and Jan. 3 will bring more concerts and interactive events during the day prior to the 8 p.m. kickoff.

Ocean Drive, the street between the beach and well-known beachfront businesses like The Clevelander and the News Cafe, would be closed to traffic for those four days.


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