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Ultra Music Festival expansion to two weekends OK'd in Miami

In a decision that should surprise no one, the Miami City Commission on Thursday night rejected a bid to halt an expansion of the city’s massive Ultra Music Festival, allowing the lucrative March event to book a second weekend of electronic music at Bayfront Park. The first-time expansion was approved on a trial basis, with commissioners pledging to revisit the plan next year.

 The debate was prompted by a resolution from City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff that cited noise, traffic and “nuisance behavior” that was disruptive to local business and residents during the three-day 2012 festival.  Sarnoff said three additional days of such activity would be intolerable for area residents.

Last year’s edition of the 15-year-old festival drew 160,000 people from 50 states and  75 countries to downtown Miami, pumping nearly $80 million into the local economy, according to a study by the Washington Economic Group, Inc.  This year’s event is expected to double those figures  over six days.

An online petition in support of a second weekend of Ultra closed Thursday night with 8,660 signatures.

In preparing for an expanded festival, Ultra officials had pledged $600,000 for off-duty police and fire personnel and developed new traffic plans for Biscayne Boulevard.

In a statement Thursday night, Ultra organizers said: “We appreciate the incredible support of the City of Miami commission, mayor, Bayfront Park Management Trust, and fire and police departments, as together we have implemented a logistical plan that addresses everyone’s concerns, including those of local residents and businesses, allowing us to move forward and focus on producing the first-rate, world-class event Ultra has become.”

Ultra Music Festival begins March 15-17, with a diverse lineup that includes David Guetta, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5 (pictured),  Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Crystal Castles, Matt & Kim, Thievery Corporation and Yeasayer.  The March 22-24 lineup has not been released.

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Photo: Getty Images

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