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Cirque circles Miami Beach

Troupe finds another permanent venue

MIAMI — Cirque du Soleil has confirmed its pact with Clear Channel Entertainment and real estate developer the Related Group to create a permanent venue for a new show in the Jackie Gleason Theater for the Performing Arts in Miami Beach.

The trio plan an entertainment complex that would include restaurants, a spa, bars and clubs, as well as a ballroom for the Miami Beach Convention Center next door.

Venue will be Cirque’s second permanent home in Florida. It has been scouting for locations in London, New York and Paris as well, said Cirque spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard.

“Miami was one of our target markets,” Menard said. “The challenge will be to offer something distinct from ‘La Nouba’ in Orlando.”

Preliminary plans call for two shows nightly five nights a week.

The renovation and expansion of the Jackie Gleason, which is owned by the city of Miami Beach, carries a reported pricetag of $90 million-$100 million.

Financial plans have not been unveiled, nor have any requests for municipal subsidies or other financial support been made.

“We’ve only seen an initial presentation of what they would like to do with the theater,” said Miami Beach communications officer Nanette Rodriguez.

But the city likes what it has seen so far. The city’s finance and projects committee will review it in September.

If all goes well, it would be a year before breaking ground, Rodriguez said. Miami-based Related indicated that construction will take 18 months, she added.

The Miami Beach venue would look to draw locals from South Florida as well as tourists, convention delegates and cruise-ship vacationers.

Cirque has four permanent shows in Las Vegas, with a fifth on the way. It has announced plans to open a permanent venue at Disney Tokyo in 2008.

A project has been announced for the troupe’s hometown of Montreal, but regulatory and other approvals are pending, and an opening there is not anticipated before 2010 or 2011, Menard said.

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