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Ultra Music Festival 2013: Second weekend in peril?

The Miami City Commission on Thursday may vote to kill a scheduled second weekend of the city's  massive Ultra Music Festival, and not because they fear there isn’t enough good DJ music to fill three more days.

Citing noise, traffic and “nuisance behavior” that would be disruptive to local business and residents, a resolution from City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff seeks to bar the Bayfront Park Management Trust from permitting Ultra organizers to use the downtown Miami park for a second consecutive weekend, on March 22-24.

Attempts to reach Sarnoff’s office were unsuccessful.

Ultra officials say that ticket sales for the second weekend have been "robust" since receiving approval to expand from the Bayfront Park Management Trust in October.

An online petition to save the second weekend of Ultra had 6,700 signatures on Wednesday morning. Many who signed the petition suggested that it is too late for such debate: Airline tickets have been purchased and hotel rooms booked.

Ultra Music Festival begins March 15-17, with a diverse lineup that includes globally relevant acts such as David Guetta, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, Afrojack, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Crystal Castles, Matt and Kim, and Thievery Corporation. The second weekend lineup has not been released.

Last year’s edition of the 15-year-old festival, which occurred on a single weekend, was a quick sell-out, drawing 165,000 electronic-music fans from 50 states and 75 countries to Bayfront Park. The live stream of Ultra 2012, which included a surprise appearance by Madonna, was seen by another 2 million people, organizers said.

The speed with which Ultra has sold all its tickets each year prompted festival creator and executive director Russell Faibisch to propose a second weekend of music, a business no-brainer for himself, the city and the local economy. In a single weekend, last year's festival pumped nearly $80 million into the local economy, according to a study by the Washington Economic Group.

In a statement released Wednesday morning,  festival organizers said they have undertaken a wide-ranging community outreach effort to allay concerns of local businesses, residents and office workers, as well as police, fire, traffic, sanitation and port officials. The group is confident that any lingering issues can be addressed.

"Both the festival and the downtown area have grown exponentially (since Ultra debuted in 2001), and our ability to face and address the challenges presented by that growth is what sets Miami apart from others as a world-class city," the statement said.

Measures submitted by Ultra for this year's festival, some in response to concerns communicated by Sarnoff, include setting aside $600,000 for off-duty police and fire personnel; an updated traffic and signage plan targeting north- and southbound flow on Biscayne Boulevard; new noise restrictions (for instance, eliminating soundchecks before 4:30 p.m. on Fridays); and specific plans to accommodate crowd management and security at Bayside Marketplace, Miami Center, the Intercontinental Hotel and several downtown residential towers.

Organizers said Ultra has received "excellent reviews" from police and fire department officials over the last three years.

"It is important for Ultra and its brand to remain viable in downtown Miami and to make the event a successful one for downtown businesses and stakeholders," the statement said. "We understand that our plan to address concerns must be one that is always looking to improve."

Photo: Getty Images

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