The 4-year-old initiative to save and restore Miami Marine Stadium received two huge boosts this month. First, the Miami City Commission officially entered into a partnership with Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) to develop a plan to raise the needed funds to fully restore the Stadium. An additional promising announcement came from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which named the Stadium a National Treasure.
The Miami City Commission approved legislation creating an agreement between FMMS, the city, and the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority (MSEA). Under the terms of the agreement, the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium will furnish an operating plan and business plan to the city within six months and will commit to raising full funding within two years. The plan will be co-developed with The Heat Group, the operators of American Airlines Arena in Miami. It is estimated that $30 million will be needed for restoration. To date, $10 million has been raised or committed to restore the Stadium.
Another boost to save and restore Marine Stadium came from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) which named the Stadium a National Treasure. "National Treasures" are irreplaceable, critically threatened places across the country where the National Trust is making a deep organizational investment. Through this program, the Marine Stadium is immediately eligible for expert resources from the National Trust, including fundraising, technical assistance and planning grants.
"Designation of the Marine Stadium as a National Treasure comes at a key time for us," said Tomas Regalado, Mayor of the City of Miami. "The restoration of the Marine Stadium-and its return to our community-is a key priority of my Administration. The resources provided by the National Treasures program are vital to us and will help us accomplish this goal."
Both events mark a remarkable turnabout for the prospects of Marine Stadium. Built in 1963 and designed by architect Hilario Candela, the Miami Marine Stadium featured concerts on a floating stage, boat races, Sunrise Easter Services, political rallies and more during its years of operation, from 1963 to 1992. It was shut down after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 even though it was never damaged by the hurriacen. The Stadium has sat vacant ever since. An early Master Plan prepared by the City of Miami in 2007 called for demolition of the Stadium.
Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) was formed in February 2008 to advocate for the restoration of the Stadium. Originally under the administrative umbrella of Dade Heritage Trust, the group is now an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. With the passage of the legislation by the Commission, FMMS looks forward to working with the City and the MSEA to further develop plans for the Stadium. FMMS, which has neither asked for nor received any City funding in its four-year history, seeks to raise private funds to restore the Stadium.
The Miami Marine Stadium has received significant acclaim through inclusion on the World Monuments Fund Watch List (2010) and the National Trust For Historic Preservation's "11 Most Endangered List" (2009). Singer Jimmy Buffett also has joined the cause by cutting a public service announcement in support of efforts to restore the Stadium. The Miami Marine Stadium is now considered an architectural masterpiece. Its 326-feet-long roof, a series of hyperbolic parabloids, was the largest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was built.
The restoration of the Marine Stadium is especially important to Hilario Candela, the original architect. Candela designed the Stadium almost 50 years ago as a 28-year-old architect. He is a Co-Founder of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium.
"The City of Miami administration, realizing the 'community ownership' of the significant memories encapsulated at the Miami Marine Stadium, officially confirmed its support to the efforts of the voluntary leadership of Friends so that new generations of Miamians could happily share their own." Candela said. "This has been the realization of the hard work of a community joining forces for a common legacy."