F0RT LAUDERDALE—When the Air & Sea Show was new to Fort Lauderdale, captivated spectators and happy business owners called it a "shot in the arm," a huge success, Broward County's Mardi Gras.
Two Fort Lauderdale businessmen who want to hear those words again got the go-ahead Tuesday to resurrect the show. City commissioners voted unanimously to approve a contract with Stanton Smith and Steve Savor, allowing them to start building the show for a return in 2010.
"The real reason to do the show, for me," said Mayor Jim Naugle, "has always been that the military leaders have said what a great recruiting tool the show is, to expose kids to a career in the military and attract the best and the brightest to operate that sophisticated equipment."
From 1995 to 2007, promoter Mickey Markoff and his air-show organization put on the annual beachfront spectacle, featuring fighter jets and bombers, military choppers and stunt pilots. The city for years contributed services, but took a tough zero-cost-to-taxpayers approach at Commissioner Christine Teel's urging in 2004.
Markoff said he ended the show because he lost his title sponsor, McDonald's.
Much is ahead of Smith and Savor if they're to bring back the party. Their next stop is the U.S. military, to see if and when the hardware is available. Then sponsors would be sought to underwrite the show.
An admission charge, perhaps for premier seating, is possible, though the contract requires any charge to be "minimal."
They'll also have to contend with environmental concerns. Dan Clark, president of Cry of the Water environmental group, told commissioners that protected reefs offshore cannot be harmed by boat anchors as they have in past shows. He urged the organizers to begin consulting with regulatory agencies.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce supports the return of the show.
Brittany Wallman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4541.