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Mayor Proposes Major Overhaul of South Beach Entertainment District



Mayor Proposes Major Overhaul of South Beach Entertainment District
  • Mayor Dan Gelber proposes scrapping the South Beach Entertainment District and putting a new Art Deco Cultural District in its place.

  • Zoning changes proposed include a last call at midnight; operators could qualify to operate until 5 am through a Conditional Use Permit and abiding by certain requirements.

  • A Beverage Control Board would have regulatory oversight over liquor licenses and late night establishments.

  • Ocean Drive would be permanently pedestrianized.

  • Effort aims to end the “out of control” behavior.

  • Stakeholder reaction is mixed, depending on the point of view.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber this week proposed scrapping the City’s South Beach Entertainment District which he said has too often become the scene of “out of control” and “raucous behavior.” In its place, he wants to see an “Art Deco Cultural District” to change the dynamic of the area and reflect the City’s status as an arts and culture destination.

The proposal is more than just a name change. It contains a series of ordinances that would “reimagine” South Beach including setting last call at midnight with businesses having to qualify for permits to operate later, the establishment of an oversight committee with regulatory control over alcohol and late night establishments, and the complete pedestrianization of Ocean Drive. 

In a video address, Gelber said the establishment of the Mixed-Use Entertainment District or MXE in the 1980s was designed to encourage investment in an area in dire need of revitalization by allowing bars, clubs, restaurants, cafés, and galleries primarily as accessory uses of hotels. The MXE includes Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue from 5th to 16th Streets.

“Within years it became one of the world’s great destinations and it was safe and accessible to visitors and residents alike,” Gelber said. “But it became a victim of its success. Over the last few decades it has grown to resemble a beachfront Bourbon street with all-night hard drinking and too much misbehavior where too many people go to do what they would never do in their own hometown. Most of our city’s serious crime occurs in this district and the victims and perpetrators tend to be visitors.”

Despite various blue ribbon panels and attempts to “tone it down” through legislative measures, Gelber said, “We simply have not sufficiently altered the raucous dynamic of our Entertainment District. Worst of all, it is not the brand we have fostered elsewhere in our city and not one we should tolerate.”

“Since it’s clear we can’t program our way out of this and we’ve been unable to enforce and arrest our way out, it’s time to take a more drastic action that addresses the underlying issues,” he said.

In addition to creating a new cultural district to replace the entertainment district, Gelber is proposing “major zoning overhauls… to establish the kind of business climate we would like to foster in this district, making it easier to incent good operators and equally easy to drive out the bad ones.”

He noted more than “one hundred establishments in the Entertainment District that can serve liquor and entertain from 2 am to 5 am as a matter of right. Some are standalone bars, others tethered to a hotel or restaurant. Many are fine, but too many are not. Trying to shut down shoddy operators has been difficult.”

“These proposed ordnances would dramatically change this dynamic. We will establish a midnight last call everywhere and only allow certain establishments to remain open later if they can qualify for what is the equivalent of a conditional use permit,” the Mayor said. The City uses the CUP process to place certain requirements on businesses that they must comply with or they lose their right to operate. 

An oversight committee – a Beverage Control Board – would have regulatory control over liquor and late night establishments. “There’s no question this will result in some businesses unable to operate in our city in the manner they have previously,” Gelber said. “But I believe we’re at the point where we have to accept we just can’t be for everyone.”

Under the proposal, owners of properties will be responsible for the conduct of their on-site operators, “namely bars and clubs,” according to Gelber. “Right now, some building owners often don’t even know what is going on right under their noses and are not responsible for fines. This needs to change as we need to partner with building owners to help elevate this area.” 

He also wants to incentivize “the growth of more galleries, museums and businesses that promote culture and wellness.” He used the Wolfsonian Museum expansion plans as an example, something voters will see on the November ballot.

“We will also ask more of the organizations that promote our history and architecture and work on projecting and marketing our brand so that we attract more visitors seeking a cultural experience.”

“Finally, we need to literally change Ocean Drive,” he said, proposing the $25 million in G.O. Bond money approved by voters for improvements to the street and Lummus Park be used to create a permanent pedestrianized-only area with more space for café tables “giving operators and visitors an enhanced experience, fostering restaurants rather than bars, and promoting finer and more cultural dining.”

“There are plenty of wonderful operators in this area including owners and employees who share our vision for this important district. South Beach is still attracting serious investment up and down Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue with plans for mixed-use development that could truly elevate this area. And there is a cultural explosion in our city that needs to better define this area as well.”

“We have some real possibilities, but we need to send a clear message as to what we expect,” Gelber said. Noting the efforts by many on the Commission to tackle issues in the district, he added, “I have supreme confidence in my colleagues’ shared commitments to these goals… if we disagree on the details, I’m confident we can get on the same page. We need to.” Gelber will bring a package of ordinances to the City Commission meeting this Wednesday.

Concluding his video address, Gelber said, “Some might say, why now, when so much is not normal. This area is already under so much pressure and strain. The answer is, this is precisely the right time. We can no longer kick this can down the road and what we have tried to do is clearly not enough. We cannot attack this problem any longer from the edges. And when we emerge from this pandemic – and we will emerge – we should have a different kind of South Beach. A better one, just as vibrant and iconic, but also cultural and safe. South Beach for everyone.


Reaction from stakeholders

Initial reaction from stakeholders is mixed, depending on the point of view.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian who served on Gelber’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Drive and who sponsored several of the measures aimed at “bad operators” said, “We need to really dramatically change Ocean Drive and I believe we’re at a unique moment. I would like to see more arts and culture and wellness. I believe we need to move beyond just alcohol and nightlife. I am hearing tremendous energy in the community. People are really thrilled with the idea that Ocean Drive will now potentially be all for pedestrians and I think people are thrilled that we will try and bring different types of businesses. People are thrilled that what we’ll have is all sorts of folks, residents, families, visitors because everyone’s welcome as long as they play by the rules.”

Mitch Novick, owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel at 9th and Collins, has been a fixture at City Commission meetings complaining about unruly behavior which he believes comes back to loud music. “I’m all for noise being contained to the property,” he said, one part of the new proposal that he likes. Another is the rollback of hours for alcohol service. “Alcohol is what drives this.” 

Despite liking some parts of the plan, Novick says he’ll fight the effort to pedestrianize the street. The current temporary closure, put in place to allow residents a place to get out and exercise during the pandemic and as expansion space for sidewalk cafés to have socially distanced dining, has negatively impacted his property, he said. The side streets have become “intolerable” with “total gridlock, absolute mayhem… At least it was spread out when the street was open,” he said. 

Novick has already contact his lawyer. “[This] will likely result in litigation. I’ve already advised my counsel this cannot happen. It will greatly diminish the valuation and marketability of my property.”

He does agree that “the model has to change and now’s as good a time as any and it should be completely changed, turned upside down,” he said. The operational costs of the MXE – though the numbers are not entirely clear – are “disturbing” to him and he has blamed the status quo on political contributions by Ocean Drive operators. Policing makes up a large portion of the budget.

Ultimately, Novick said, “We’re a beachside community. People will come here if public safety can be ensured and we have good things, cultural things. That will attract an affluent visitor, not a Spring Break type of crowd.”

Josh Wallack, whose family owns Mango’s at 9th and Ocean, called Gelber’s proposal “compelling” because of its focus on the arts, “exactly what is revitalizing the urban core of Miami.” 

“It’s clear that the mayor has been working on this plan,” Wallack said. “It was very thoughtful. It was well researched.” If passed, he said, “This will make him a transformational mayor… It will make him a mayor remembered in 50 years.”

“It definitely needs input from stakeholders but, certainly, they’re looking to get their hands around these bad actor tenants.” While expressing support for the idea of a new Ocean Drive, Wallack objects to long-established businesses having to go through an annual “audition” with a Beverage Control Board. “I don’t think that legacy businesses should be subject to any sort of whims of a new board like that… that’s for someone who’s taken over this bar or that bar and has to prove to the City that they’re a good operator. They should have to go audition,” he said.

Several Ocean Drive businesses, he said, are “historically and culturally important” including Mango’s, The Clevelander, and the Palace, similar to other iconic businesses like Joe’s Stone Crab and the Fontainebleau. He wants the City to make sure those businesses don’t go away in any plan to overhaul to Ocean Drive. 

He also cautions there needs to be a holistic look at the hours of alcohol service to ensure the party doesn’t just move to residential areas where last call is later.

Overall, though, Wallack likes the idea of a focus on arts and culture. “Art deco. That’s what brung us to this dance,” he said, calling it an opportunity to “get our swagger back.”

“Make South Beach somewhat safe and clean and cool again,” he said recalling Tony Goldman’s strategy. Goldman is one of the visionaries credited with the revival of South Beach. “All it takes is a couple of cool restaurants… and suddenly everybody’s talking about it.”

Jo Manning, Ocean Drive resident and member of Gelber’s Ocean Drive Panel: “Miami Beach residents, especially those who live on Ocean Drive and remember when it was a safer and classier street for residents and visitors alike, are all for this plan. I especially like the recognition it will give to the Miami Design Preservation League. The MDPL has been ignored for far too many years by the group that thinks it is the only one that can speak for our iconic street, the Ocean Drive Association.” The Ocean Drive Association represents many of the property owners and operators on the street.

Frank Del Vecchio, Ocean Drive resident and neighborhood activist, wrote in an email, “This is a desperation measure which is necessary to deal with lawlessness and its causes, and this political recognition is at long last an extremely positive move and is to be supported.”

“His proposal is clever,” he said. “The city has power over liquor licensing. The politics is who gets the competitive advantage of 5:00 AM while all others must close at midnight.” 

The politics of a Beverage Control Board are what concern him. “In every city in which I have worked, liquor licenses have been a monopolistic commodity and a source for political payoffs and corruption,” he wrote. “Our city has no experience in this and I fear that the same political influence that has been dominant for Ocean Drive MXE for the last twenty years descent into lawlessness requiring a virtual police state will simply operate by effectively controlling the liquor licensing regime.”

“How to manage liquor licensing, the criteria and authority of a liquor control board require incisive work and analysis and public examination before this element of the package is enacted,” Del Vecchio said. “My reaction, based on years of observation of liquor control boards in other cities, is to scrap that escape clause in the plan and go with a midnight liquor closing hour in the new Art Deco Cultural District.”

Alex Tachmes, attorney with Shutts & Bowen who has represented a number of local businesses including some on Ocean Drive, wrote in an email to Ocean Drive stakeholders following the announcement of the proposals, “Today, like all of you, I read with dismay about another misguided attempt to address the perceived problems on Ocean Drive. The attacks on Ocean Drive property owners and businesses by the city have sadly become routine. A short time ago, we all unified to turn back a 2am alcohol cut off. Today we are faced with a midnight cut off. When will it stop?”

“The core problem of Ocean Drive is lawlessness and a lack of safety. Until that changes, you will likely be faced again and again with ordinances by the city seeking to reduce hours of alcohol or taking other drastic and ineffective measures,” he said.

“In every country in the world, the first and intuitive response to lawlessness and lack of safety is the police. For some reason, the approach is different in Miami Beach,” Tachmes wrote. “The extreme measures being proposed by the city should be considered only if basic policing has failed. Basic policing has not failed here because it has not been tried.”

Tachmes suggests “a more aggressive police approach… for a certain amount of time until the definition of normalcy changes from lawlessness to law and order. It won’t happen overnight or in one weekend.” He wants to see one or two police officers on every corner of Ocean Drive “round the clock for the next 6 months” with “zero tolerance for criminal infractions.”  

He urged business owners to move forward with their plans for a Business Improvement District (BID) and use the extra taxes they pay to fund the extra police resources. “If you do not take that step, I believe the city will continue again and again to impose operational restrictions on Ocean Drive that are ineffective and hurt businesses.” 

South Beach Alliance sent a letter to the Mayor and Commissioners announcing their new collaboration of MXE business stakeholders two weeks prior to Gelber’s announcement. In it, they acknowledge the issues and urged the City to begin an urban planning process immediately for the area.

“The District was a challenge prior to the pandemic and will continue to be one once this pandemic is over without proper adaptation and action. But, as Winston Churchill is credited to have said, ‘never let a crisis go to waste’. In times of crisis there is an opportunity for great leaders to rise to the occasion in ways that they could not in times of normal.”

“In that spirit, and with the determination to seize the opportunity for improvement, the stakeholders of the District, specifically the Ocean Drive Association, Washington Avenue BID, Collins Improvement Association, and the Espanola Way Association have formed an alliance.”

Saying they want to “join with the city to promote the development of a comprehensive urban plan to elevate all of South Beach and make sure that we are positioned to properly claim our location as one of the most important tourist and residential destinations in world,” the group urged the hiring of architect Zyscovich Architects and Jerome Barth of Town Square to develop an urban plan for the Entertainment District that considers vehicle/bike/pedestrian traffic patterns, lighting, landscaping, and signage.

“We need experts such as Bernard Zyscovich, Jerome Barth and others to help us properly plan the future of South Beach. We must expeditiously conclude this urban planning discussion and execution as a foundation. We all share a common goal: A clean, safe, and forward-thinking South Beach that delivers on its brand and experiential promise.” [Emphasis in letter.]

The letter is signed by Jonathan Plutzik, Chairman, Ocean Drive Association; Andrew Resnick, Chairman, Washington Avenue BID; Scott Robins, President, Espanola Way Association; Marlo Courtney, Founder, Collins Business Improvement District; David Berg, Co-Chair, South Beach BID Partners, Inc. [Updated July 28: The Lincoln Road Business Improvement District has signed on to this letter as well.]

We reached out to Plutzik as chair of the Ocean Drive Association for his reaction to Gelber’s plan but had not received a response by the time of publication.

The Details

Some of the details that were provided in an overview document from the Mayor’s Office:

Alcohol Sales

  • Last call everywhere in the ACD will be midnight and establishments must apply to a newly created Beverage Control Board for conditional permission to serve alcohol later. 

  • The Beverage Control Board will have authority over applications for extended alcohol sales; extensions would bring extra requirements (e.g. like paying for police on-site, codes of conduct, or agreements not to host promoted parties).

  • Decisions of the Beverage Control Board will be final and they can revoke any extensions they grant.

  • Any establishment in this area selling packaged alcohol (like liquor stores and convenience/grocery stores) will have a 5pm cutoff (currently 8pm). 

Noise and Land Development Regulations

  • Stand-alone bars and stand-alone drinking establishments will be prohibited in the ACD, unless as part of a hotel.

  • Sidewalk café operations are treated as all restaurants with last call at midnight unless approved for later; no outdoor speakers will be allowed in the street or sidewalk or audible music outside the confines on each individual property (other than curated via special event permits). 

  • Commercial uses of rooftops will be limited to restaurants.

  • Property owners will be liable for the actions of their tenants – currently many building owners don’t know they are hosting bad operators and aren’t the ones receiving fines. 

Ocean Drive

  • Ocean Drive will be elevated to be level with sidewalks and permanently pedestrianized; each side street will have dedicated loading and delivery spaces.

  • Hotels and restaurants will be afforded the privilege of creating outdoor dining experiences in the expanded areas consistent with our City Code of Conduct.

Details on the Beverage Control Board process were provided in a memo from City Manager Jimmy Morales:

Establish a process for alcoholic beverage establishments (except for package stores and retail sales, which would comply with current restrictions) to request a closing time after 12:00 am through an alcoholic beverage control board. 

  • This new board process would be like the Planning Board CUP process, as it would have regulatory authority to review each request for expanded hours on a case by case basis, as well as require pertinent material for review and creating a basis of decision. Such material would include, but not be limited to, operational and circulation plans, sound studies and crowd control. These plans would also be subject to an applicant subsidized peer review. 

  • The board would have authority to require periodic progress reports, or progress reports as needed, re-consider matters based upon violations and failure to operate in accordance with an approved extension, as well as the authority to revoke or suspend a previously approved extension of hours. 

  • The board would consist of 5 to 7 members, with expertise in entertainment, alcohol regulations, architecture and planning, and be appointed by the City Commission 

  • The board would meet multiple times per month, with lesser notice requirements, to provide an expedited process for review of all applications.

  • The extension of hours by the board would be good for a fixed period (e.g. 1 year) and would need to be renewed. If the operations of the venue are flawless, the renewal would be pro-forma. 

This is just the beginning of the process. The various components of the package will go through Committees and Land Use Boards before coming back to the City Commission. At each step, there will be the opportunity for public and stakeholder input.

The City Manager’s memo and draft regulations can be found here.




Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans



Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans

Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans
Image Source: XB Net

Simon fraser, Senior Vice President of International at XB Net, discusses how XB Net is taking the sting out of protracted integration processes for sportsbook operators.

Backed by 1/ST Technology, Fraser walks us through the ways that XB Net is helping bettors to engage in all aspects of horse racing, before explaining how the company plans to use the Breeders’ Cup to broaden North American racing’s international reach.

SBC Americas: For those that might not know, can you tell us a little bit about XB Net? What’s the story behind the company and which markets are you targeting?

SF: XB Net provides a comprehensive North American racing service to international gaming operators across both fixed-odds and pool betting. The service covers the popular codes of thoroughbred, quarter-horse, harness and greyhound racing. Our key markets currently include the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.

We manage the rights and distribute this premium content (data, odds, live broadcast and video streaming) on behalf of a broad progressive portfolio of global partners, allowing them to deploy ground-breaking technologies to attract and educate new audiences.

We’re lucky enough to be backed by a true powerhouse in 1/ST Group, whose consumer-facing brand forms a world-class technology, entertainment, and real estate development company with thoroughbred horse racing wagering at its heart – anchored by best-in-breed horse racing operations at the company’s premier racetracks, including (to name but a few): Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park – home of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series; Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course – site of the legendary Preakness Stakes.

And now the stateside stage is set for this year’s flagship finale at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships (5-6 November) in Del Mar. It all represents 1/ST’s continued movement towards redefining thoroughbred horse racing for a modern audience, and optimizing the ecosystem that drives it.

As a result, we can draw from an unrivalled network of over 60 North American tracks which account for over 75% of U.S. racing, opening the door to many of the planet’s most prestigious horse races.

SBC Americas: How is XB Net ensuring that it stands out from the competition?

SF: That aforementioned deep well of resources and racetracks isn’t a bad place to start from when you’re trying to positively delineate XB Net from the competition. And as a basic premise, we are planning to work with our partners across the globe to increase the awareness of North American horse racing, both as an exciting sport and as a high-quality betting medium.

By harnessing low-latency feeds from more than 2,500 meetings, showcasing over 25,000 races per year, North American racing is steadily accruing more global viewers and bettors, especially after a spell in which the pandemic has badly disrupted, if not decimated, so many events on the typical sporting calendar. While many of those sports have since recovered from the treatment table, North American racing – which mostly continued unaffected during the outbreak – has largely retained its enlarged audience share.

In the UK, some of that success and enduring retention can be attributed to the popular nightly pictures on Sky Sports Racing, whose friendly, informative GFN was instructive in “home-schooling” many new viewers to North American racing during the lockdowns.

Accordingly, with many heads having been turned by North American racing, the sport is now pulling up a comfortable seat in their wider entertainment choices. Particularly considering the nature of its rapid-cycling events, which conveniently fill the recreational gaps for drop-in audiences who might like a bet. Providing the right content at the right time remains so important, wherever you stick your pin on the international map.

XB Net’s steady stream of short-form premium content captures eyeballs and improves digital hang-time, allowing our partners to engage untapped audiences, deliver 24/7 horse racing, and also guard against any unforeseen impediments to the global sporting calendar.

SBC Americas: Tell us about your EasyGate™ products. How are they eliminating the complexity of North American racing?

SF: EasyGate is a breakthrough multitote technology and software architecture, providing structured race content, betting pathways and secure track video streams to our partners. Long story short, EasyGate navigates an intuitive path through the complexity of North American racing (from streaming formats to different data sources and their multivariate components), and also simplifies access to other content from other countries.

We give operators everything they need to succeed and take the sting out of protracted integration processes – just plug in and go, whatever the channel.

SBC Americas: Tote betting, and arguably horse racing in general, across the UK has had a tricky few years. How is XB Net making sure that racing is still the ‘product of choice’ for your partners?

SF: Our ability to present North American racing as a fixed-odds product allows us to take advantage of the UK market where Tote betting will always be a marginal betting product. Elsewhere, innovation around in-running betting can really allow horse racing to catch-up on any lost ground and reconsolidate its market position.

The complex variables of horse racing have meant this sport, for so long the retention backbone of many operators, hadn’t previously been able to seize the opportunities that other sports have secured with in-play. After all, nowadays, betting products must smoothly transition from pre-play to in-play, which is why operators must employ the latest trading tools and reactive in-play odds to attract modern-day audiences.

XB Net has now successfully trialed a ground-breaking feed that couples the Starting Price with the best of automated trading via Total Performance Data’s (TPD) astonishing array of consequential in-running analytics, including stride length, stride frequency and sectional timings enabled by saddle-cloth GPS tracking. These variables are accordingly harvested in-play by TPD’s machine-learning trading tools whose algorithms train themselves on race pace for precise pricing that delivers a distinct step-change in live fixed-odds wagering.

SBC Americas: How does your company help bolster revenue and support sometimes struggling traditional racetracks?

SF: I’d take issue with the word struggling. On the US side of the pond, the prize money at most tracks is very positive and betting turnover is up significantly. As a core technology in the wider arsenal of 1/ST and 1/ST Technology, XB Net is part of a broader company wide goal to sustain a successful business model while ensuring all stakeholders who work in the industry are cared for and supported.

That means delivering a fresh and holistic racing experience for the fans which captures the entertainment proclivities of every age group at the racetrack, especially the younger generation that is coming through. We are embracing this challenge and opportunity (sometimes two sides of the same coin!) at every touchpoint we have with our customers.

Just take our recent efforts with Historical Horse Racing (HHR) and how these terminals can provide workarounds for their local racetracks, increasing revenues where slots aren’t legal. As a result, HHR games can bolster revenues at traditional racetracks through direct new gaming revenue for operators who are directly tied to horse racing.

We also pay back a percentage to each host racetrack for every single wager placed, using each respective track’s historical races. This is akin to the simulcast live horse racing host-fee structures, in addition to paying horse racing industry stakeholders for the requisite historical race information data (e.g. Equibase).

At the tracks, our teams are working to modernize the horse racing experience, leveraging technology to bring an on-demand, digital experience to our customers. Ultimately, we’re targeting a growing audience looking for quick-fire action and engaging gameplay experiences driven by end-user thinking and the best interfaces that support that. Providing opportunities for consumers to engage in all aspects of horse racing – from live racetrack visits to simulcast viewing, online wagering and mobile – is the best way to grow our sport in a modern world.

SBC Americas: XB Net holds the international distribution rights for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. In what ways is this agreement helping to broaden North American racing’s international reach?

SF: Self-evidently, our three-year contract extension with the Breeders’ Cup was a welcome endorsement of our team’s efforts over the past few years. The agreement comprises worldwide broadcast and video-streaming distribution rights from the Breeders’ Cup whose 2021 renewal, consisting of 14 Championship races and over $31 million in prize money and awards, is fast-approaching (5-6 November) at Del Mar racetrack in California next month. Del Mar is one of my favourite venues in all of sport, and its most common epithet of “where the surf meets the turf” tells you what sets it apart.

When the standard-bearer for elite North American racing selects you to further broaden the international reach of its world-class festival, you must be doing something right, and I’m pleased to say that sports fans and bettors around the globe can look forward to even more coverage of the World Championships.

You’re even seeing a suite of domestic host broadcasters (for example Sky Sports Racing and ITV in the UK) broadcasting all 14 races this year, which is ideal for growing the sport. Of course, the increasingly international make-up of these fields, bringing the best horses together from all around the world, only adds to the allure and transcendent appeal of the Breeders’ Cup for global audiences.

SBC Americas: And how will you help optimise and increase the returns to North American racing following what has undoubtedly been a challenging economic period?

SF: For us, it’s all about expanding markets and coverage, coupled with enhancements to our cutting-edge technologies. We’ve already launched in India, while we also have new Tote and fixed-odds roll-outs set for Asia and Africa.

Regarding the race tracks themselves, the more we can add to the service, the better-value our proposition will inherently become through sheer economies of scale. Again, we can return these cost advantages to the tracks. That even applies in Australia, where we’ve recently agreed a deal to add thoroughbred racing from the principal racing state of Victoria to our service which runs off the same infrastructure. We’re thrilled to be able to add more world-class contests for our partners, with the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival already capturing players’ imaginations.

As for what’s under the hood, we’re always refining and fine-tuning, despite having some of the most durable and trusted tech around. For instance, we actually just classified our pari-mutuel totalisator and fixed-odds wagering platform as a “legacy” product.

Instead, we’re replacing it with a next-gen wagering platform that will play a key role as 1/ST Technology continues to deliver on our vision to build upon the strengths of our current gambling platform while also extending its capabilities (e.g. quickly adding new bet types) – increasing speed to market, enhanced support of our customers’ needs, and unlocking the ability to efficiently onboard new consumers via verticals such as sports betting, esports, and other emerging opportunities. In short, it will allow us to react to the market with peerless agility.

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions



Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions

The Majesty of Rock set to perform at First Friday Seminole

SEMINOLE — The Majesty of Rock, one of Florida’s most prestigious bands, will salute the music of Journey and Styx at First Friday Seminole, on Friday, Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m., on the main street in front of Studio Movie Grill at Seminole City Center, 11201 Park Blvd. N., Seminole.

Sponsored by Seminole City Center and The Rotary Club of Seminole Lake, this will be the final First Friday Seminole of 2021. The event will feature a variety of Seminole City Center merchants, food, prizes, and games, as well as a special concert by The Majesty of Rock. Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs. Coolers are not allowed. Vendors other than Seminole City Center tenants are not permitted.

The Majesty of Rock features the voice of John D’Agostino, coupled with the exceptional musical talents of four equally sophisticated and experienced musicians. That combination soon propelled the group to become one of the premier Journey reverence bands of our time. The band strives to re-create the exact sounds and nuances of Journey. Their passion for authenticity and attention to detail go a long way toward ensuring that the audience feels like they’re at a real Journey concert.

While the band has enjoyed performing the music of Journey, front man John D’Agostino also loves another American super group: Styx. Turns out the rest of the band are huge Styx fans, too. So, they began adding some of Styx’s best tunes to their already expansive repertoire of Journey material.

CWP to stage ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’


The cast and crew of the Carrollwood Players Theatre production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” include, front row, from left, Kaedin Cammareri, stage manager; Jason Goetluck as Spike; and Pauline Lara as Nina; and, back row, Se’a Ryan as Sonia; Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra; Kenneth Grace as Vanya; Kari Velguth as Masha; and Alicia Spiegel, director.

TAMPA — Carrollwood Players Theatre will present its production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang, running Oct. 15-30, at the theater, 4333 Gunn Highway, Tampa.

Tickets are $24. Tickets now on sale at Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. For information, call 813-265-4000 or visit

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia share a home, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. When Marsha, their movie-star sister, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike, old resentments flare up, eventually leading to threats and chaos. Contributing to the excitement are a sassy maid who can predict the future, and a lovely young aspiring actress who can’t. Audiences will discover why Durang is lauded as the master of mining the absurdities of human folly.

Presented with the support of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, this production will be directed by Alicia Spiegel.

“‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ is not exactly a well-known show, and the title can be a bit hard to remember … but audiences won’t soon forget the hilarious storyline,” Spiegel said. “I think everyone will relate to the family/relationship dynamics in this modern comedy laced with emotional baggage and heartfelt moments.”

The cast features Kenneth Grace as Vanya, Se’a Ryan as Sonia, Kari Velguth as Marsha, Jason Goetluck as Spike, Pauline Lara as Nina, and Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra.

“Our cast has been perfecting their characters for almost a year a half since we were supposed to put this show on in April 2020 before the world changed,” Spiegel continued. “Luckily, CWP has decided to put it on this season and we are very ready to entertain audiences. They will be treated to sibling rivalry, a sexy young man barely wearing anything, a clairvoyant housekeeper whose predictions can’t be trusted, and a sweet girl next door who doesn’t know what she’s in for.”

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York.

Carrollwood Players offers a limited number of free tickets to every performance for low-income families receiving Florida SNAP benefits. For more information, visit

Syd Entel Galleries to present Borowski glass exhibition

SAFETY HARBOR — An opening reception for a new glass exhibition by the world-famous Glass Studio Borowski will take place Friday, Nov. 12, 4 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 13, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass Etc., 247 Main St., Safety Harbor.

The Borowski’s “Odd Birds Walk of Fame,” a tribute to 20th century celebrities in glass, will run through Nov. 27. The show is open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call 727-725-1808 or email

Borowski is one of the leading modern glass studios worldwide. Stani Jan Borowski transforms the iconic Fat Gonzo light object into the wildly successful Odd Bird Series. The Odd Bird series has continued to grow into a collection of 22 famous celebrities from the world of art, music, media and science. These hand-blown glass creations are a work of art, unique and distinctive. All are wildly imaginative with recognizable characteristics of the many famous characters, such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Elton John, Micheal Jackson, and Marilyn Monroe.

In addition to the Odd Bird Series, the gallery will have on hand a huge selection of work from the Borowski art objects, studio line and outdoor collection.

Cool Art Shop presents artisan holiday ornament tree

DUNEDIN — The Professional Association of Visual Artists will celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the annual Holiday Ornament Tree featuring handcrafted artisan ornaments, holiday décor, small gift items, and holiday greeting cards by various PAVA fine art and fine craft artists.

The tree is on display at The Cool Art Shop, 1240 County Road 1, Dunedin, in the Independence Plaza Square, through Thursday, Dec. 23. An open house reception will take place Friday, Oct. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., at the shop.

In addition to the Holiday Ornament Tree, The Cool Art Shop also displays and sells PAVA’s artists’ artwork which is comprised of an impressive collection of both visual and functional art for sale in both 2D and 3D mediums including painting, ceramics, photography, mixed media, drawing, pastels, sculpture, and jewelry in all price points. The artwork is rotated on a 6- to 8-week basis to keep the artwork fresh and new. Shop hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PAVA is a nonprofit organization run by volunteer artists to serve local artisans and support the arts community in the Tampa Bay area. It provides exhibition, education and grant opportunities for its members. Additionally, PAVA supports local art centers, and is a local sponsor of the Pinellas County Regional National Scholastic Art Awards where scholarships are provided to students for art instruction. Visit

Mat Kearney concert canceled

CLEARWATER — The Mat Kearney concert scheduled at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 3, has been canceled.

Ticket holders will be contacted about refunds. For more information, visit

Creative Clay virtual exhibit opens

ST. PETERSBURG — Creative Clay presents “Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness,” October’s virtual exhibit, featuring artwork by Creative Clay’s member artists who actively create, market and sell their work. The exhitib opened Oct. 9.

This new exhibit coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to the United States Department of Labor, the theme this year is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” which reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creative Clay promotes inclusion by empowering its artists to create art that is exhibited in its Good Folk Gallery, exhibited throughout the community and online, and market themselves as working artists. Many of Creative Clay’s member artists engage in training for potential employment. Creative Clay’s artists receive commission on all works sold.

NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Employers, community organizations, state and local governments, advocacy groups and schools participate in celebrating NDEAM through events and activities centered around the theme of America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.

Creative Clay’s Virtual Gallery also includes the artwork of many of Creative Clay’s member artists. All artwork is for sale through our online gallery at

St. Pete Arts Alliance awards to help young artists

ST. PETERSBURG — Awards received from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Program allowed 14 talented Pinellas County students to attend an arts camp this summer.

These students aspire to be musicians, actors, dancers, writers or visual artists. Creative Clay, American Stage, St. Pete MAD and others nominated creative, aspiring at-risk and/or low income students to attend their arts programs for the summer while parents of these students filled out applications showing artistic and financial need.

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures programs are dedicated to helping students nurture their creative interests and develop their expressive talent by providing funding to eligible students and connecting them to local after school arts programs or summer arts camps.

“It’s not just about the art for these students,” said Tracy Kennard, associate director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “It’s about gaining confidence, understanding collaboration and feeling compassionate towards others and how the simple act of learning new artistic traits, can teach skills that are the building blocks of a promising future in any industry.”

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Student Award program is designed to identify and encourage talented at-risk and/or low income emerging artists, ages 10-17 in Pinellas County seeking St. Petersburg programs in the categories of dance, music, jazz, voice, theater, digital arts, photography, cinematic arts, literary or visual arts. Funding Futures is open to all talented artists regardless of ethnic, social or economic background, or ability/disability.

Major funding sources from Tampa Bay Times Employee Matching Gifts, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, and the Jacarlene Family Foundation have helped build the Funding Futures Grant Program for the past six years. For information on supporting this program, visit

Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin concert rescheduled

CLEARWATER — Due to a scheduling conflict, Livingston Taylor and Tom Chapin have rescheduled their concert at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre.

Tickets purchased for the concert on Friday, April 1, will be honored on the new date, Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $29, are on sale now. Visit

Sinbad show postponed

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced stand-up comedian Sinbad has postponed his upcoming performance scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m.

Tickets will be honored on the new date to be announced soon. For more information, visit

Steep Canyon Rangers reschedule Capitol Theatre show

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced that the Steep Canyon Rangers concert originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m., has been rescheduled.

Tickets will be honored on the new date Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $25, are on sale now. Visit

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions



Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions

Dunedin Wines the Blues music lineup set

DUNEDIN — The Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association recently announced the lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event, set for Saturday, Nov. 13, noon to 11 p.m., on Main Street in downtown Dunedin.

The 30th annual Dunedin Wines the Blues will offer attendees an opportunity to walk around the downtown area businesses, shop, eat, and browse a selection of street vendors. This year’s festival will present three stages of nonstop blues, with live music performances beginning at 2 p.m.

VIP tickets are on sale and include unlimited drinks and food as well as access to the VIP lounge area with couches, tables, stage views, big screens and VIP-only desserts and signature drinks. The VIP tent is open from 5 to 11 p.m. VIP tickets cost $125. For tickets, visit

Following is the music lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event:

Main Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Selwyn Birchwood
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Beth Mckee Funky Time Band
  • 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. — Johnny Rawls Band
  • 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. — Damon Fowler
  • 9:15 to 10:45 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

West Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Ellie Lee Band
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Steve Arvey
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Alex Lopez
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Sarasota Slim

East SBS Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Trey Wanvig
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — T Bone Hamilton
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Brian Leneschmidt Band
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Dottie Kelly Band

Performers and show times are subject to change without notice. For information, visit

Author releases new book, announces book signings

Reedy Press recently announced the release of “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” by Joshua Ginsberg.

You might think you know Tampa Bay, maybe even the weird, wonderful, and obscure parts of it, but get ready to take your exploring in an innovative and interactive new direction. With “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” you’ll embark on a gamified experience in the Tampa Bay area, complete with over three hundred clues to solve spanning seven counties.

From museums to natural wonders, historical markers, bars and restaurants, sports stadiums, and public artworks, you’re bound to discover something new and unexpected. Be the first one to solve all the riddles, take the whole family out on an adventure, or just find a creative excursion for a few hours as you unlock the hidden face of the Tampa Bay area.

Ginsberg — an author and local explorer — brings years of research and a poet’s sensibility to each of his carefully outlined quests. Follow along with the website and the #TBScavenger Facebook group for a truly interactive experience. It just might be the most elaborate and ambitious scavenger hunt that Tampa Bay has ever seen.

“Tampa Bay Scavenger” is available wherever books are sold.

Ginsberg will host several book signing events in the coming weeks. Book signings are free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. The author will take part in the following book signings:

  • Saturday, Oct. 9, 2 to 5 p.m., at Cueni Brewing Company, 945 Huntley Ave., Dunedin
  • Saturday, Oct. 23, 5 to 8 p.m., at Bastet Brewing, 1951 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa
  • Saturday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Clearwater Historical Society, 610 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater

Studio 1212 to launch new exhibition

DUNEDIN — An opening reception for “What a Relief” will take place Sunday, Oct. 17, noon to 3 p.m., at Studio 1212 Art Gallery, 234 Monroe St., Dunedin.

Participating artists will be on hand. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will run through Nov. 28. Studio 1212 is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the gallery’s online store at

Gulfport venue to present Amazing Acro-cats show

GULFPORT — The Amazing Acro-cats will perform four shows, running Friday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24, at the Catherine A. Hickman Theatre, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport.

Performance times will be Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Visit or

The Amazing Acro-cats — featuring Tuna and the Rock Cats — are a troupe of rescued house cats. This one-of-a-kind, two-hour long “purrformance” features talented felines roll on balls, ride skateboards, jump through hoops, and more.

The finale is the only all-cat band in the entire world: Tuna and the Rock Cats. The current band lineup features St. Clawed on guitar, Bowie on drums, Nue on keyboard, Ahi on woodblocks, Albacore on cowbell, Roux on trumpet, and Oz on saxophone. There is even a chicken named Cluck Norris rockin’ the tambourine.

Featured on the Netflix docu-series “Cat People,” Tuna and the Rock Cats have also appeared alongside Stephen Colbert on his late night show, as well as PBS and Animal Planet.

Murals coming to two Pinellas Trail tunnels

LARGO — Creative Pinellas and Pinellas County Public Works have partnered to bring four new murals by Pinellas County artists to the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail tunnels at U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs and Alternate U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor.

The artists’ mural designs for each tunnel face have been inspired by public surveys and meetings that were part of the artist selection process that occurred this summer and revealed a community that enjoys the sunshine and outdoor life, and appreciates the scenic landscape filled with Florida native plants and wildlife. The locations for the murals were selected as part of the Pinellas County Public Works Graffiti Abatement Art Program.

“Creative Pinellas is proud to be part of this multi-mural project on the Pinellas Trail,” said Barbara St. Clair, CEO of Creative Pinellas. “It is an opportunity to not only assist in Pinellas County’s effort to combat graffiti, it also brings talented Pinellas County artists in to create pieces that will engage the trail users in a new way. The new murals will add to the identity of the Pinellas Trail as a destination location in Pinellas County.”

The Palm Harbor location, just north of Wall Springs Park, will feature Taylor Smith’s design “Wetland Herons” that includes two great blue herons with an organic color scheme meant to highlight the beauty of Florida’s coastal wetlands on the south tunnel face, while the north tunnel face design by Yhali Ilan, “Island People,” celebrates the coastal lifestyle in North Pinellas through the use of vibrant plant life, people enjoying the beaches, and water related activities.

The Tarpon Springs location, just north of Live Oak Street, will include the design “Sun Tribute” created by Daniel Barojas (a.k.a. R5, Rope5) on the west tunnel face. The design is a stylized representation of the sun, an essential part of Florida lifestyle. Ricardo Delgado’s (Reda3sb) design “Birds and Flowers” also incorporates the sun, setting into the sea, vibrant flowers and tropical birds, to celebrate nature and Florida life on the east tunnel face.

The Pinellas Trail Mural program is a partnership between Creative Pinellas and the County with goals of defeating graffiti, building excitement and interest, and fostering community beautification projects. Since the beginning of the program, local artists have completed two murals in Palm Harbor and one along the Pinellas Trail overpass in Largo.

“Extending the graffiti abatement program to the Pinellas Trail exemplifies the County’s strategic plan goals to invest in our transportation infrastructure, maximize partner relationships and support a vibrant community,” said Tom Washburn, Pinellas County Public Works Transportation Division Director. “We are pleased to partner with Creative Pinellas and the Florida Department of Transportation in this effort to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

Artists will be working over the coming weeks and through mid-October. Both locations will remain accessible for trail users while the artists work.

For information about the project, visit

Cracker Country to presents annual Tall Tales of Old Florida

TAMPA — Tall Tales of Old Florida will be presented Saturday, Oct. 23, beginning at 6:45 p.m., at Cracker Country, a living history museum found at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N., Tampa.

Each walking tour will last 60 minutes. This event is recommended for ages 6 and older. Admission is $14 per person and includes a snack. An advance purchase price of $12 per person is available through Oct. 17. Tickets are sold in time blocks. Tickets and more information available at

Attendees will explore Tampa’s 19th century living history museum by night. Along the way, they will meet storytellers who will spin wild yarns about a few of Florida’s unexplained oddities. A little scary, a little funny and always family friendly, the Tall Tales tour is a Florida history adventure by lantern light.

Cracker Country is a living history museum that represents aspects of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities at the end of the 19th century. During the Tall Tales of Old Florida tour, “tellers” will share uniquely Florida stories about skunk apes, misbehaving trains, cow hunting giants and other legendary creatures. Guests will also enjoy a magic lantern show, featuring a turn-of-the-20th-century projection technology that led to the birth of the film industry.

Guests are invited to come early and enjoy Victorian games and activities before their tour begins. Afterward, have a complimentary snack and do some holiday shopping in the General Store.

Chic Décor & Artisan Market set

SAFETY HARBOR — The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will take place Sunday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 411 Main Street, Safety Harbor.

The Chic Décor & Artisan Market is returning to its home location in Safety Harbor.

This unique hybrid market highlights some of the best home décor artists, vintage pickers, and indie artisans in the Tampa Bay area. The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will feature over 120 local décor artisans, vintage treasures, and furniture featuring assorted styles like coastal chic, farmhouse, shabby chic, cottage glam, and industrial. There also will be food vendors and live entertainment.

Parking and admission are free.

L.O.L. Surprise! Live show rescheduled

CLEARWATER — L.O.L. Surprise! Live scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Ruth Eckerd Hall, has been rescheduled.

L.O.L. Surprise! fans in Clearwater will be able to rock out in real life when the all-new hologram concert tour crisscrosses the United States and makes a stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, May 5, at 6 p.m. Tickets purchased for the Oct. 20 performance will be honored on the new date. Tickets, starting at $28.75, are on sale now. Visit

St. Pete Arts Alliance to present Second Saturday ArtWalk

ST. PETERSBURG — The Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District, Warehouse Arts District, Uptown Arts District and downtown Waterfront District will united to celebrate “ARTober” for the St. Petersburg Second Saturday ArtWalk, set for Saturday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m.

ArtWalk is opening night as some 40 galleries and studios premiere new works, with artists and demos on-site. It’s impossible to take in the entire ArtWalk in one night. Attendees should plan to drive, walk, or take the trolleys to visit the districts of their choice — or utilize the free Downtown Looper, which will run every 15 minutes.

To download the map and list of participants, visit

‘Legendz of the Streetz’ show rescheduled

TAMPA — Amalie Arena recently announced that the “Legendz of the Streetz” Tour has been rescheduled.

Originally set for Sunday, Oct. 17, the show will now be presented Friday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. All tickets bought will be honored for the rescheduled date. The tour will feature hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Jeezy, Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz. Tickets, starting at $50, are on sale now. Visit

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