Jackie Gleason Up For Grabs

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 and Live Nation, who also want to be venue operators.

The city-owned Gleason Theater was originally approached by Cirque du Soleil and then-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 said the theatre would be better off as an AEG venue, according to The Miami Herald.

Then, Live Nation threw its proposal into the hopper on July 12th but it has not been made public, according to the paper. Meanwhile, a delegation of administrators and commissioners were reportedly expected to fly the next day to Las Vegas to check out some Cirque performances and meet with representatives.

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.