This Saturday, six teams of "Special Operations Warriors," a group of veterans from the US armed services, mounted a team of Kawasaki Jet Skis along the shoreline in front of Miami Marine Stadium in order to commemorate the "Never Quit Challenge," a private charity ride 1,600 miles up the East Coast that started in Key West and will conclude in New York City on September 11th. A stage was erected for the event, which drew members of the public and the press, well as a number of Miami's heavy hitters, such as Mayor Thomas Regalado and Gloria Estefan.
In addition to wishing the Warriors well and bidding them a safe journey, the public figures in attendance also commented on the future of Miami Marine Stadium, which recently had its site plan approved and is now in the process of raising $20 million within the next two years in order to begin construction on the restoration project. Once the event had come to a close and the veterans made their way to prep their jet skis for the long ride ahead of them, Estefan gave New Times a few minutes of her time.
At first, Estefan harkened back to the '80s, recalling when she had performed at Miami Marine Stadium before it was closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.
"We did [perform at the stadium] for Y-100...It would have been '85 or '84," she noted. "It was wild! I remember walking out on this catwalk that led right onto the bay. We came ready to go, 'cause there weren't really any dressing rooms or anything like that, but it was a blast. The people were crazy. The vibe there is very relaxed, you know? I think [Jimmy] Buffet played also. I'm pretty sure he jumped in the water after his performance. I didn't."
As many audience members and performers before her have noted, Estefan reiterated her belief that the stadium was an amazing venue and simply an amazing place.
"Anytime you're on the water, it's a special energy," she stated.
Estefan then went on to describe what she sees in store for Miami Marine Stadium in years to come.
"I can tell you so many ideas that we have that we hope come to fruition, she began. "I can see Art Basel installations. I can see demonstrations and games, because [architect] Hilario [Candela] is coming up with a new, larger stage made up of three connected parts, so you could actually have a soccer game on the water, for example. I envision sort of a drive-in movie [theater] for boats at some point. And obviously, I see concerts."
She then set her focus on how the stadium will serve Miami's aquatically inclined population, a group she said she considers herself a part of.
"I'm a boater," she said, "and there are not a lot of things or places that you can get to from the water, ironically, in Miami. You can go up the river and there's a couple spots, but there's not as much as there should be for such a big boating community, so I'm envisioning a lot more boat participation here. We also have the 4th of July fireworks in Downtown that you can watch from the bay over there, so maybe they could have another fireworks show over here. You could have wonderful classical concerts here because the acoustics are really great, and obviously they'll be even better once we complete construction."
She also talked about the stadium as a one of a kind place -- not just in Miami, but in the world.
"You know, there's nowhere in the world - and I've travelled a lot - that has something like this. Even the Sydney Opera House is on the water, but the events are inside. It's very unique-- "
At which point a lifelong friend of Estefan's, Elvis Cruz, who apparently has known her since grammar school, when her last name was "Fajardo," jumped into the conversation, asking when we would be seeing a Gloria Estefan concert at the stadium.
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"I'd love to," she responded. Cruz, who Estefan described as being the troublemaker in school, then suggested she pre-sell tickets to raise money for the construction.
That likely won't happen -- while a good number of Miamians might be eager to get a chance to see Estefan perform at the venue for the first time in three decades, few would be eager to buy their tickets and then wait at least a year and a half for the restoration to be completed. In the meantime, more traditional fundraising efforts are underway. Visit marinestadium.org.