For more than eight years, Don Worth has watched plan after plan to restore Miami Marine Stadium fall apart. Abandoned after Hurricane Andrew struck in August 1992, the stadium on Virginia Key has taken on a new, graffiti-covered life as a hangout for street artists and skateboarders. Worth dreamed of seeing it restored to its former glory.
"The pictures don't do it justice," says Worth, cofounder of the group Friends of Miami Marine Stadium. "The architecture gives it the 'wow'; the history gives it some soul. There's no place like it in the world."
Now, as other plans for restoration have stalled, Heineken has pitched the city on a novel approach: a crowdfunding campaign to revitalize the stadium. The campaign will launch on Indiegogo next month, according to Jason Lloyd Clement, director of community outreach at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is partnering with the Dutch beer company.
"Whoever loves the stadium will be able to give $5 to bring it back to life," Clement says. "For so long, people have been like, 'We need to find huge gifts from major donors,' so this is different in that it's allowing residents directly to bring it back to life, and that's something that doesn't happen with a lot of restoration projects."
The Miami City Commission is expected to approve a resolution at its meeting tomorrow allowing the city to accept donations from the campaign. Heineken has agreed to donate $20,000 toward the project, Clement says.
The campaign hopes to raise a total of $100,000 to cover the cost of removing the stadium's seats, which are in disrepair. A complete renovation of the stadium would cost anywhere from $37 million to $40 million, and funding for that is still something that needs to be addressed, Worth says.
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"We've always wondered why some corporation hadn't realized the marketing potential of this place. Heineken did," he says. "I'd like to think they are going to show the way for some other corporation or philanthropist to realize the incredible naming potential of this place. Once we get a business plan in place, that opens us up to larger forms of financing."
Last month, the city chose Coral Gables architect Richard Heinsenbottle to head design efforts for the renovation. The team includes Hilario Candela, the original designer of the 1963 structure, as a consultant.
"For eight and a half years, it's been a long and winding road, and I'm more optimistic than I've ever been," Worth says. "It's too great of a project to give up on."