|James L. Knight Center|
|Address||400 SE Second Avenue|
Miami, Florida 33131
|James L. Knight Convention Center (1982–86)|
James L. Knight International Center (1986–2013)
|117 (Miami Lecture Hall)|
|4,569 (James L. Knight Center Theater)|
3,200 (Riverfront Exhibition Hall)
444 (Ashe Auditorium)
|• Exhibit hall floor||28,000 sqft (Miami Convention Center)|
The James L. Knight Center Complex 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 its opening, the complex has hosted many business, entertainment and political events. Annually, it hosts Miami Dade College graduation ceremonies. It also hosted Miss Universe in 1984 and 1985, Miss USA in 1986 and Miss Teen USA in 1985 and the OTI Festival in 1989.
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. 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 annual operating costs and debt for 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 gain 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 adding a public meeting space and lecture hall. During this time, the auditorium hosted many events, including the NWA Wrestling's Clash of the Champions televised event in June 1988 and two concert appearances for the band R.E.M..
The Knight Center became used primarily for concerts when the Hurricanes moved into Miami Arena in 1988, and became the original home of the annual Premios Lo Nuestro ceremony in the 1990s, remaining until the ceremony moved into the newly completed Waterfront Theater at American Airlines Arena in 2000.
The complex is located along the Miami River near Bayfront Park. Also in the area is 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.