AEG Battles The Cirque

Cirque du Soleil has been romancing Miami Beach officials since 2004 to renovate and take over the Jackie Gleason Theater, but officials are now also being courted by AEG.

The city-owned Gleason Theater was approached by Cirque du Soleil and partner Clear Channel Entertainment with a concept of renovating the theatre for a permanent Cirque installation, similar to those in Las Vegas and at Walt Disney World.

Cirque originally planned to construct a $130 million complex that would surround the theatre and include a nightclub, shops and a celebrity-chef restaurant. Those plans were scaled back after taxpayers balked at their contribution.

Recently, though, AEG chief exec Randy Phillips met with city commissioners to caution them that Miami did not have the demographics to support a permanent Cirque show and the theatre would be better off as an AEG venue, according to The Miami Herald.

Cirque wants to design the theatre for a Latin-themed show for South Beach that would run twice a night for most of the year, the paper said. The proposal could require as much as $80 million from taxpayers.

AEG thinks Miami cannot sustain such a show. Unlike Las Vegas and Disney World, which attract 39 million and 50 million tourists a year respectively, Miami-Dade and Broward counties combine for 21 million visitors.

AEG is expected to file a proposal with the city that would give Jackie Gleason Theater 150 performances a year. Public dollars would not be in the equation.