James L. Knight Center

The James L. Knight International Center is a contemporary entertainment and convention complex located in Downtown Miami, Florida. Located within the Miami Central Business District, the venue opened in 1982. The complex is named after famed newspaper publisher, James L. Knight. Since it’s opening, the complex has hosted many business, entertainment and political events. Annually, it hosts Miami Dade College graduation ceremonies.

History

The complex originally was built to be an exhibition hall for the downtown Miami area, to attract business conferences, trade shows and conventions. Previous conventions were held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. However, the business atmosphere for Miami Beach began to decline. City officials saw this as an opportunity to claim the market for the blossoming downtown business district. The space, known as James L. Knight Convention Center, was the project of the City of Miami. During its construction, the University of Miami sought a sports arena for its revitalized basketball program. Famed newspaper publisher, James L. Knight donated over one million dollars towards the cost of the arena. The space became known as the University of Miami Auditorium.

Along with the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the complex opened October 2, 1982 to the public. Although this venture was promising for the city government, it proved to be very costly. Although the center hosted many events, it was not able to draw large convention crowds due to its limited size. The venue began to accumulate debt for the county and city officials were unsure of how to solve the problem. Taxes were increased to handle the $5 million dollars annual operating costs and debt foe the venue. In 1983,the FIU Sunblazers men's and women's basketball team used the UM Auditorium until the completion of the Sunblazer Arena in 1986. Shortly after, the newly formed Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team occupied the auditorium and the center was revitalized.

To meet demand, the city looked to expand the Knight Center to be used for large conventions, which would not only gained higher revenue for the county, but also solve the city's growing unemployment issue. Concurrently, the University of Miami were also looking to build upon the athletic success of the auditorium by added a public meeting space and lecture hall. During this time, the auditorium hosted its first concert event for the band, R.E.M..

In the summer of 1987, the complex was expanded to included the UM Conference Center and the Miami Convention Center. Additionally, the auditorium took on the name Knight Center as the UM Hurricanes began to use the Miami Arena. For nearly ten years, the complex was primarily used for business functions. Revenue began to decline and city officials wanted to sell the auditorium and convention center. Ultimately, Miami-Dade County remained owners of the complex, however, operations were handed to Global Spectrum. In 2007, Global Spectrum hired a gentleman from New York, by the name of Lorenzo Muniz and within six months promoted him to General Manager. In 2010, Lorenzo Muniz and his staff were the first administration ever to generate a profit in the facilities 28 year history. By 2010, the complex began and continued to blossom, becoming a staple within the downtown community.

Facilities
  • Miami Convention Center
    • James L. Knight Center
    • Riverfront Exhibition Hall
      • North Hall
      • Central Hall
      • South Hall
    • Riverwalk & Dockage
  • UM Conference Center
    • Ashe Auditorium
    • Miami Lecture Hall
  • Hyatt Regency Hotel
    • Regency Ballroom
    • Riverwalk Cafe
    • Riverwalk Deli
    • Pure Verde
Location

The complex is located along the Miami River near Bayfront Park. Also in the area is the The Shops at Mary Brickell Village, Gusman Center for the Performing Arts and New World School of the Arts. The complex is serviced by the Knight Center station for the Metromover.

Media

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