News: One Man’s Push for a Latin Music Hall of Fame on Miami Beach

Roger Abramson

For the last two weeks Roger Abramson has been brimming with excitement. The well-known beach resident has been walking around with an idea that he believes would make Miami Beach even more of a tourist destination.

He wants to establish a Latin Music Hall of Fame. The International Latin Music Museum and Hall of Fame to be more precise.

“It should be in South Florida,” Abramson told the SunPost, “where it belongs.”

He believes it’s a matter of time before some place like San Antonio or Puerto Rico does it, and that the South Florida market is the natural place.

Abramson is quick to point out the many latin music super stars who live among us like Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Enrique and Julio Iglesias, Pit Bull, Jon Secada, and Rudy Perez to name a few, and the natural fit they could have with a local museum. At the moment none of these names are attached to this project.

“I have spoken to many people,” he says of the Latin Music Community, city commissioners, and just general people who all think it’s a “wonderful idea,” but he won’t divulge their names without their prior consent.

Also his push for partnerships won’t officially begin until a couple of weeks from now when he returns to the city from a northern trip.

For now he is getting his idea out, and eventually it will turn to a formal proposal to the City of Miami Beach.

From talks the SunPost has had with him and in releases Abramson has sent out, it appears his first choice for the venue is the Jackie Gleason Theater.

The fate of the Live-Nation controlled venue has been a thorn in many sides during the redevelopment process of the Convention Center District.

When one of the developer teams vying for the contract announced they were going to tear it down, a pretty loud outcry to save it ensued. It was such a political black eye for Portman CMC, that they changed their mind and hastily “saved” the theater in their new designs.

Still, last week City Manager Jimmy Morales recommended that any and all remodeling plans dealing with the Jackie Gleason Theater be put on hold until the city can renegotiate with the venue’s manager Live Nation. A week later the full commission agreed with the recommendation at a Land Use meeting.

Under the current agreement Live Nation holds control for a significant amount of years that would make a hall of fame destination, a long ways away.

Abramson is not unswayed by any of this: Live Nation nor the theater preservationists. He has a long history with producing concerts in the rust belt with some of the biggest names in classic rock like The Doors, Jimi Hendryx, and The Who to name a few, and feels he has a grasp on the business.

Abramson feels Live Nation is only after having control of the local market, and that they could be persuaded to retain that control at a different venue. As for the theater preservationists he doesn’t miss a beat in saying the history is gone with the Jackie Gleason theater. Abramson even brings up a recent Planning Board recommendation that the Gleason be demolished.

In his own informal poll, he couldn’t find a single person over the age of 25 that had been in the theater since Live Nation took it over, and feels the community would return if it was turned over to a museum programing.

The SunPost reminded Abramson that the dedicated opposition to the Gleason demolition had more to do with South Florida losing it’s only venue for touring musical outfits of a large following than the history of ‘the great one’.

He scoffed at it, saying there were many locations that could fill that void, even The Gusman in Downtown, Miami.

The same could be said of his vision. Abramson would like the hall of fame to be located in the city he lives in and is active in, but wouldn’t turn down a museum in Miami. As long as the financial benefit stays in the market like it has in Cleveland.

“The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has become not only a major tourist attraction, it has also been the catalyst in developing new hotels and entertainment venues in downtown Cleveland,” says Abramson.

In a step forward, he feels the museum could also become the home of the Latin Grammys whom has been lost to Los Angeles.

Abramson is a fixture of local politics and civil matters. Currently he serves on the advisory board for the Miami Beach Convention Center, the city’s biggest project.

He also contributes his famous Seashell Menorah to an annual Lincoln Road display.

Abramson says he’s involved in the city and it’s prosperity because it’s just in his nature.

“There is no personal agenda,” he said, “just a wonderful venue for our city.”

About Frank Maradiaga

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