A little over five years ago, an organization called the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium was founded in order to champion the restoration and reopening of the long abandoned bayfront venue in Key Biscayne that had its doors closed by the city in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. It has been widely recognized as an extraordinary piece of architecture and an exciting location with endless potential for the people of this city. The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium have come up with an idea for how to realize all that potential by bringing the stadium back into the world of the living, revitalizing it again and making it a fully operational venue for boat races, concerts, and numerous other events, as well as a beautiful and widely accessible public space.
Yesterday, Miami's City Commissioners convened and after hearing testimonials from supporters of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, including Gloria Estefan and organization co-founder Jorge Hernandez, gave their approval for the site plan to restore the iconic venue. The Friends organization officially has the green light to get their resurrection underway.
The meeting began with a video message from Gloria Estefan, entitled "Save Miami Marine Stadium," in which the Miami songstress and entrepreneur expressed her strong emotional bonds to Miami and her dedication to support the causes she finds important for our city.
"As I've grown," Estefan explained, "my love and commitment for Miami has grown, and although I don't like getting involved in the politics of our beloved city, I do feel the need to speak up if I seem some valuable becoming endangered, especially something I want my children and future generation to be able to enjoy."
In addition, the video message detailed numerous aspects of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium's restoration plan and how it would be ideal for the economy and the community, as well as how it neatly abides by a number of Miami zoning and property statutes.
Estefan also noted that the restoration plan is pro bono, drawing money not from the public sector, but rather through the Friends organization's fundraising efforts, which will also provide for "an endowment of at least $7 million" for the maintenance and repairs of the facility once it's up and running.
The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium have already raised $10 million of the the estimated $30 million they will need to complete the restoration and now have two years to secure the remaining $20 million.
The meeting would go on to hear the support of the Vice chair of the Dade delegation, who according to Ines Hegedus-Garcia, called the stadium a "cultural and historical piece of Miami's legacy." Jorge Hernandez, architect, professor of architecture at University of Miami, and co-founder of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium organization, would go on to describe the specific details of the plan, including boundary issues with the nearby parts of the bay and Key Biscayne.
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And while some of the commissioners had their reservations regarding the restoration, the meeting concluded with a decision to approve the Friends site plan. According to the Miami Herald, the only vote against the proposal came from commissioner Frank Carollo, who commended the organization for doing "one heck of a job", but felt the risk of future deficit for Miami made this an issue for public referendum. The resulting approval garnered statements of congratulations for the degree of effort and support that the organization has been able to generate for their cause.
Somehow, in a city rife with graft and anaemic when it comes to support for public spaces projects, the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium have cleared what was arguably the largest hurdle in the course of resuscitating the once glorious staging ground and as Adriana Gallegos with the National Trust for Historic Preservation deftly put it, "the stadium is officially on the road to restoration."
For more information on the Miami Friends of Marine Stadium and the efforts to restore one of Miami's most amazing venues, visit marinestadium.org