Miami’s sour note

Laws may eliminate city for Latin Grammys

MIAMI — Miami’s apparent inability to host the first Latin Grammys next fall because of anti-Cuban laws may prove to be good news for Los Angeles.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has been weighing Miami against Los Angeles for the debut awards show, but wants the option of having Cubans — likely nominees — attend and perform. But the org’s first choice of venue here, the soon-to-open American Airlines Arena, is owned by Miami-Dade County, whose rules prohibit doing business with Cuba.

Although an academy spokesman said no final decision has been made, county government officials recognize their regs effectively shut them out.

“We’re disappointed that the event cannot take place here,” Juan Mendieta, spokesman to Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, told the Associated Press. “We’re not against the event. But the mayor certainly abides by the laws and regulations of this county.”

Miami, an international hub for the Latin music industry and home to many Latin labels, would lose out on as much as $35 million in revenue generated by the show itself and the festivities and events in the weeks leading up to it.

“The Cuban issue has cost you the Pan American Games and now it looks like it could cost you the Grammys,” said Michael Greene, president and CEO of the Academy, according to AP. “It’s basically blackmail and it’s a tough thing for us to deal with.”

Even with lobbying from some local politicians and business leaders, including from the Miami music biz, “the likelihood of (county officials) changing this is probably slim to none,” a source close to the negotiations said.

Indeed, the mayor appears keenly aware of the political capital involved.

Following the controversial performance of Cuban salsa group Los Van Van last month (city riot police stood guard over anti-Castro protesters, who outnumbered concertgoers), Penelas said that he wanted to ban future concerts by Cuba-based artists on the grounds that they represent a public nuisance.

Midem Americas fled to the city of Miami Beach, when its first conference in 1997 faced reprisals in Miami for bringing in Cuban performers.

Miami Beach’s facilities have apparently been nixed by the Academy as inadequate for the Grammys. Meanwhile, further up the coast, Fort Lauderdale is making an aggressive appeal at the 11th hour.

“South Florida will get to keep the Grammys if this goes well,” Nicki Grossman, president of the Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, told the Miami Herald.

Los Angeles may ultimately prevail. The infrastructure is in place for a show and the city is home to the largest Hispanic and Latin population in the U.S.