"Get on your feet, get up and make it happen."
The 1989 Gloria Estefan hit was well chosen for the occasion as the Miami icon, Mayor Thomas Regalado, City Commissioners, representatives of the Historic National Trust, and others approached the podium to officially announce the Stadium as the spot for the 2016 and 2017 Miami International Boat Show.
Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium is well ahead of its funding schedule with at least $15 million of their $30 million goal, though they haven't yet secured a full-time lease from the city. Organizers have until January 20th to show that the stadium could be a moneymaking operation that wouldn't need public support.
"In 2016 the Miami International Boat Show will mark 75 years in Miami, and I'm not sure there's a better way to commemorate the historic institution," said National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich. "Miami Marine Stadium has the potential to add a whole new level of excitement."
It's big news for the Boat Show, the community of Miami, and the Stadium itself. The occasion not only marks the anniversary, but the return of the Boat Show to the city of Miami proper, as it has spent the last 45 years on South Beach.
Even more important is the realization of the dream to revitalize the Stadium, which has sat in disarray since its partial destruction by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The once marvelous venue for boat races and bayside barge concerts from the likes of Estefan, Jimmy Buffet, and the Beach Boys now sits covered in garbage and graffiti. The garbage will have to go, but the plan is to keep some of the artwork around. In fact, the Stadium received $180,000 from the Getty Foundation to salvage what they can.
"A big part of the reason we want to salvage this is because the urban artists of our community have recognized its importance," Estefan said. "Art has kept it beautiful despite having gone through some tough times."
It's certainly been a rough few decades for the Stadium, which was originally marked for demolition in '92. A survey of the site by engineers found the Stadium structurally sound, and strong community support in the years that followed have kept hopes high for restoring former glories.
Most notably, the Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium have served to keep that fire burning. At the press conference Wednesday, Friends co-founders Jorge Hernandez and Hilario Candela, also the Stadium's original architect, were full of gratitude to the City of Miami officials who have been so kind and helpful in keeping the restoration process on track, such as Mayor Regalado, who has made the Stadium one of his most high-profile projects.
Of course, many thanks and kind words were showered upon the "voices" and "faces of Miami," Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
"For me, it's a no brainer," Gloria said. The Estefans have been very generous with their times, ideas, and finances to keep this project moving. "It would be foolhardy of us to give up something so easily that makes us so unique, and I think lends so much to the culture of our very young city."
Though the project is ahead of its financial goals, there is still much work to be done.
"There's no donation too small that can come from anyone who's going to be apart of this," Gloria said. "We're selling seats with name plates and things that will give whoever donates a solid participation, something they can point to to their kids and grand kids to say 'look, I helped this thing stick around.'"
"I envision a day when we have anything from classic concerts in this beautiful nature, to pop, rock, whatever alternative music," she continues. "There's always something the Marine Stadium can give to the people of Miami all year round."
The first of two votes to preserve the future of the Stadium will be held at a City Commission Meeting Thursday, November 20. You can donate to the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium restoration fund online via paypal.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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