MIAMI -

For the last decade, the Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key has been a refuge for graffiti writers. The vandals have turned it into a work of art. But the place is years away from being open to the public for cultural events.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado visited the property Friday. He was with about 300 volunteers, who showed up to pick up garbage and help clean the abandoned building at 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway.

"[I'm] so proud to be a part of this," Bilma Quiroga said on Twitter.

Their effort was symbolic of their commitment to restore the hidden gem built in 1963 and condemned in 1992, after Hurricane Andrew. The new plan would turn the stadium into a scenic tourist destination.

The colors of the graffiti have turned the spot into a hub for creativity. Most recently, artist Bruce Pinchbeck placed an installation on the second floor. And dancer Hattie Mae Williams, of Tattooed Ballerinas, said she was using part of her Knight Arts Challenge grant for a dance project at the stadium.

Cuban architect Hilario Candela envisioned the 6,566 seat stadium with scenic views of downtown Miami would be used for water sporting events. But when the water-front property formerly known as the Ralph Munroe Marine Stadium was open to the public, it was also used for concerts.

On Friday, Tourism Cares, a nonprofit that promotes tourism, also organized a Hammock Tree planting project. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Expedia, Miami SeaAquarium and Panera are some of the organization's sponsors.

Members of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, founded in 2008 with help of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, were also present. They worked with Regalado and Candela to get a site plan approved July 11, 2013.

They also lobbied for the 2010 Miami-Dade County's $3 million commitment, and are lobbying for Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on the Florida Legislation's $1 million recent commitment for restoration.